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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More