News / Asia

NATO Commander Optimistic on Afghanistan, Despite Problems

NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis delivers a speech before a panel discussion in Berlin January 24, 2012.
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis delivers a speech before a panel discussion in Berlin January 24, 2012.
Al Pessin
— The commander of all NATO forces says the Taliban is under significant military pressure, designed in part to motivate its leaders to reach a political settlement with the Afghan government. In an interview, U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis told VOA that, despite recent problems, he is more optimistic now than he was a few years ago that Afghanistan will be stable when allied forces end their combat role, in a little more than two years. 

Admiral Stavridis has long described himself as "cautiously optimistic." But now, despite an apparent increase in Taliban activity and an epidemic of killings of allied troops by their Afghan partners, he says he feels a bit more optimistic.

"I'm actually more optimistic than I was at that time," he said. "And, I'll give you another metric that I think is very encouraging - casualties, which are devastating, every one of them individually.

"But I'm very happy to say that our casualty levels are down about 30 percent in the coalition compared to this time last year," continued Admiral Stavridis. "Why is that? It's because the Afghan security forces are in the lead."

And, he says Afghan security forces casualties are up about 30 percent as a result.

The admiral says allied forces have put a series of measures in place to try to guard against insider attacks, including stricter vetting procedures and tighter security during joint operations. And, officials say the joint patrols that were partly suspended a few weeks ago have mostly resumed.

"I'm very, very content that we have seized this challenge and will deal with it," said Admiral Stavridis. "And, it will not knock this campaign off course."

The focus of allied operations is on preparing the 350,000-strong new Afghan security forces to handle the situation on their own after most foreign forces leave at the end of 2014. At the same time, the NATO command and Afghan forces are attacking the Taliban to reduce its capabilities and convince its leaders to negotiate a political settlement with the Afghan government.

At London's Royal United Services Institute, Director Michael Clarke says the key is to ensure that after the foreign troops leave there is not more violence than the Afghan government forces can handle.

"I'm confident that NATO will leave behind a system and a structure that has a reasonable chance of working," said Clarke. "Whether it works or not will depend upon whether it's subjected to a really strong pressure. If the Taliban are able to exert real pressure on the system, then I'm not so sure it will stand."

For now, with more than 100,000 allied forces still in Afghanistan, Admiral Stavridis is more concerned about putting pressure on the Taliban.

"I think there's a lot of pressure on the insurgency," he said. "And, I think the more pressure that we put on the insurgency, the higher the likelihood of eventual political settlement in this dispute."

So far, peace talks have been rare and unsuccessful. But analysts say, if the Afghan government forces continue to get better and the allies continue to pound the Taliban, prospects for a settlement could improve as the deadline for withdrawing most foreign troops gets closer.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid