News / Asia

Pentagon Says Kabul Assault ‘Far from Spectacular’

Afghan policemen keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul September 13, 2011.
Afghan policemen keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul September 13, 2011.
Luis Ramirez

Pentagon officials say Tuesday’s attacks on the U.S. Embassy and other targets in Kabul, Afghanistan will not change U.S. plans to hand over security responsibility to the Afghan government.  

Pentagon officials say the attacks will do nothing to change U.S. forces’ resolve in Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Department spokesman George Little says U.S. forces remain committed to fulfilling their goals. “The transition remains on track. Our commitment to the people of Afghanistan and to building the capacity of the Afghan national army and the Afghan national police and other elements of the Afghan security forces remains steadfast. I would note that this was far from a so-called spectacular attack," he said.

U.S. officials believe the attack showed how weak the insurgents remain. Little says Tuesday's attacks had no effect on coalition operations. “One thing we’ve seen during  this fighting season is a less effective insurgency.  They are resorting to these kinds of more tactical operations because they can’t effect more widespread offensives," he said.

NATO says it has been making big gains against the insurgency, but analysts say security in Afghanistan, despite the assertions, is deteriorating.  August was the most deadly month for U.S. troops in the country with 66 killed - 30 of them in the crash of a U.S. helicopter downed by insurgents.  

Caroline Wadhams is a security analyst at the Center for American Progress. “What we’re seeing through these attacks and just the record levels of violence against civilian and against coalition troops through Afghanistan reveal or show that this insurgency is much more resilient than was imagined," she said.

Ahmad Majidyar with the American Enterprise Institute research group says the attack Tuesday did not result in measurable gains for the Taliban. He says its purpose was psychological. “Their main object is first of all to show that the coalition forces and Afghan government have failed to provide security for the Afghan people. If we see today’s attack happen in most heavily guarded areas in Kabul, in areas surrounding the U.S. Embassy, the NATO headquarters. So, if people do not feel safe here, then they cannot be safe anywhere," he said.

About 100,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan.  The Obama administration plans to pull out 33,000 next year and wants a full withdrawal in 2014.

Majidyar and other analysts believe the drawdown may be premature when many Afghans have a perception that their own security forces cannot protect them, and when the Taliban shows no signs of renouncing violence.

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