News / Asia

Petraeus Cites Progress in Afghanistan, But Tough Year Ahead

Gen. David Petraeus, left, top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, meets US Marines during his visit to Marjah, Afghanistan, 25 Dec 2010
Gen. David Petraeus, left, top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, meets US Marines during his visit to Marjah, Afghanistan, 25 Dec 2010
Al Pessin

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says the troop surge last year helped inflict “enormous losses” on insurgent networks, sowed discord among their leaders and put the groups on the defensive. But in a letter to the nearly 150,000 international troops in his command, General David Petraeus said they still have a lot of hard work to do.  

The general’s three-page letter tells the troops they and their Afghan counterparts did “tremendous work” and made “impressive progress” during the past year.  He credits the military surge, including 30,000 fresh American troops, and also the growth and improving quality of the Afghan Army and police.  He also mentions the surge of international civilians working on such issues as development, education, health care and the Afghan legal system.

Petraeus says increased military operations seized the combat initiative and took away some of the most important safe havens for the Taliban and its allies. He also cites what he calls “numerous reports of unprecedented discord” among insurgent leaders based in Pakistan.

Officials at the Pentagon say the general was referring to tension between Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and their bosses in Pakistan, caused partly by the killing or capture of thousands of fighters and commanders and the rise of new local leaders. The officials also tell VOA Taliban frustration is growing because the increased number of coalition forces are now able to disrupt their operations.

The United Nations has welcomed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's announcement that he plans to convene his country's new parliament on Wednesday.

Ira mellman interviewed Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington and an expert on Afghanistan. Last week, O'Hanlon had written that in postponing the convening of the Parliament, President Karzai might have been correct.

Analyst Jeffery Dressler at the Institute for the Study of War adds that some insurgent leaders in Pakistan have become reluctant to travel into southern Afghanistan, where the allied effort has been focused. But he says it is too soon to know whether the progress will become permanent.

“It won’t be until we get through next summer that we’ll be able to state definitively whether the gains that we have achieved there are lasting and enduring," said Dressler.

That is when General Petraeus will have to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces that President Obama ordered more than a year ago, when he approved the troop surge.  Petraeus re-committed himself to that in Monday’s letter, but no one is providing details yet.

Jeffery Dressler has a problem with that plan. “Drawing down the troops, in and of itself, should not be the goal," he said. "The goal should be reversing the Taliban’s momentum, making progress and ensuring that the Afghans can increasingly take over responsibility for the gains that have been achieved.”

In addition to security issues, the international community is working for sustainable gains in other areas, like economic development and the delivery of government services.  General Petraeus also mentions those in his letter, saying they are important for convincing the Afghan people to support their government, rather than the insurgents.  

On Tuesday, the senior British civilian official in southern Afghanistan, Michael O’Neill, said his teams are working to improve government services in ways that the Afghans themselves can sustain.

“We need to work with the grain of Afghan society and culture, helping them strengthen their systems, but not seeking to impose something which is alien and would not be accepted by people here," said O’Neill. "And trying to get that balance is obviously a complex judgment, but one we’re keeping in mind all the time.”

Speaking from Afghanistan, O’Neill told reporters at the Pentagon progress on civilian issues usually lags behind security gains.  But he says there have been advances in recent months and he expects that to continue, gradually, between now and the end of 2014 - the date set for the Afghan government and military to take full responsibility for governing and securing their country.  But even after that, O’Neill says the international community will need to continue helping Afghanistan for many years.  

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid