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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora