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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More