News / Asia

NATO's Afghan Strategy Taking Longer than Expected

Multimedia

Audio
Jennifer Glasse

The head of NATO forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal says the effort to assert control over the key southern city of Kandahar will take longer than anticipated, as Afghan and international troops and officials encounter challenges as they work to establish security and convince local people to support the Afghan government rather than the Taliban.  

American Lieutenant General William Caldwell started NATO's training mission in Afghanistan six months ago, and while there has been progress in training the army and police, Caldwell says there have been many lessons.

"The biggest lesson I think as we all know, nothing happens as fast as we would like it to happen," said General Caldwell.

Caldwell was brought in as part of General Stanley McChrystal's Afghan Strategy which focuses on winning the trust of the population. Caldwell says Afghan security forces must show they are trustworthy.

"The way you really win over the people is by your demonstrated actions, out there operating among them and that comes from a professionalized force," he added.

Building a professionalized force has been fraught with challenges – Caldwell says the biggest one is illiteracy – the vast majority of police and army recruits can not read or write. That means getting the forces up to standards will take time.

"When somebody says to me when do you think you'll really see the professionalization of the police and the army and the air corps, my response is probably not until next year," General Caldwell said.

U.S. President Barack Obama has set July, 2011 as a date to begin what is expected to be a very gradual withdrawal of American troops, and a transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan forces. Right now thousands of U.S. forces continue to pour into the country, mainly into the South, in an effort to establish enough security for that to happen.

But British Major General Nick Carter heads NATO forces in Southern Afghanistan. He says the solution isn't just a military one.

"This problem is very much a political problem and the old Clausewitzian dictum (Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and military theorist) that war is an extension of politics by other means is reversed in Afghanistan, Politics is really an extension of war by other means," said Major General Nick Carter. "And that's because governance has to be the determining criteria with all of this."

Carter says the plan on paper at least is simple.

"What we're trying to do is to connect the Afghan population to its government," Major General Nick Carter said. "We do that through having more representative, transparent and inclusive government, and we do it by having the security fully in support of Afghan government."

But NATO is not in charge of the Afghan government, it works alongside it. And critics say one of the biggest challenges to success in Afghanistan is that NATO is perceived by the people to be propping up local leaders widely seen as corrupt.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs