News / Asia

NATO Commander: ‘Cautious Optimism’ Ahead of Afghanistan Withdrawal

‘Cautious Optimism’ Ahead of NATO Afghanistan Withdrawali
X
April 26, 2013 8:12 PM
The top NATO military commander says, with all the challenges still facing Afghanistan, he is only “cautiously optimistic” that the Afghan government and security forces will be able to maintain security and prevent the country from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists after most foreign forces withdraw at the end of next year. U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis spoke about the situation in an interview with VOA's Al Pessin.
Al Pessin
The top NATO military commander says, with all the challenges still facing Afghanistan, he is only “cautiously optimistic” that the Afghan government and security forces will be able to maintain security and prevent the country from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists  after most foreign forces withdraw at the end of next year. U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis spoke about the situation in an interview.

It’s been nearly four years since Stavridis took over at U.S. European Command, and a few days later as commander of NATO operations worldwide.

Since then, he has made numerous visits to Afghanistan to provide strategic guidance to troops and commanders from dozens of countries, and to monitor progress.  

But four years later - and after more than 11 years of Western military involvement, thousands of casualties and billions of dollars spent - he can muster only ‘cautious’ optimism that in the end the Afghanistan effort will succeed.  

Admiral James Stavridis (left), Supreme Allied Commander Europe, during an interview with VOA's Al Pessin at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2013.Admiral James Stavridis (left), Supreme Allied Commander Europe, during an interview with VOA's Al Pessin at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2013.
x
Admiral James Stavridis (left), Supreme Allied Commander Europe, during an interview with VOA's Al Pessin at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2013.
Admiral James Stavridis (left), Supreme Allied Commander Europe, during an interview with VOA's Al Pessin at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2013.
“I think we've gone, over the four years that I've been in command, that I can speak to personally, from a period of time in which I had doubts about our ability to succeed to today, [when] I think we will succeed. And I remain cautiously optimistic that we will,” said Stavridis.

That optimism is based in large part on what the admiral sees as significant improvements in the Afghan security forces, which showed him some of what they can do during a visit two years ago.  

More broadly, he said Afghanistan’s civilian society also is changing for the better.  

Meanwhile, Taliban attacks continue in several parts of the country. But the admiral said that when foreign troops, except for trainers and counter-terrorism experts,  leave at the end of next year,  the Taliban’s ability to convince Afghans to help them will be severely reduced.

“The Taliban narrative throughout this period, throughout this decade, has been 'we're fighting the foreigners.' And that was their rallying call. Well, guess what. At the end of 2014 they're not fighting the foreigners, they're fighting Afghans - their own brothers, and by the way their sisters, in the Afghan armed forces. So their narrative breaks at the end of 2014,” he said.

It could still all go wrong, but Afghanistan researcher Matthew Willis, at London’s Royal United Services Institute, has a view similar to the admiral’s.

“I think they will hold it together. A lot of people are concerned that, following 2014, Afghanistan will revert to a 1990s sort of situation, which ultimately was civil war. But there is no reason that history should repeat itself,” said Willis.

After years of war and dashed hopes, however, no one is expressing confidence, only hope and caution.  

And as he prepares to retire after 37 years in the U.S. Navy, Admiral Stavridis shares one lesson he has learned, partly from the Afghanistan war.

“In the end, in this 21st century, we won't deliver security from the barrel of a gun. We won't deliver security from the barrel of a gun,” he said.

The admiral said security and freedom will be gained through international cooperation and a communications strategy to explain and promote democratic values, with only sparing use of the military to which he devoted his career.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jocky
April 27, 2013 11:40 PM
Idealistic words in a free world, "security and freedom will be gained through international cooperation and a communications strategy to explain and promote democratic values".Tragically this didn't work at all in Zimbabwe and many were to lose their lives and freedom? well that too is another
real story, waiting to be told. Please Admiral spare a thought for the people there.


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
April 27, 2013 11:00 AM
The optimism is based on fantasy. Afghanistan has not resolved the fundamental issues, the root causes of the instability; it has remained a country whose economy is based on the opium business, and the fact that those that control the business/ economy, are in fact hardened tribal Islamists.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid