News / Asia

US General: Security Transition in Afghanistan Will Start Soon, But Will be Gradual

General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 15, 2011
General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 15, 2011

Multimedia

Al Pessin

The American commander of all coalition forces in Afghanistan, Army General David Petraeus, says security responsibility will begin to be transferred to Afghan forces in the coming months and that U.S. troops will begin to withdraw in July as planned.  But he told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the process will be gradual to ensure that Afghan troops and government officials can sustain the areas where they take responsibility.  

General Petraeus said the increased numbers of foreign and Afghan troops and civilian officials have made significant progress against Taliban influence during the past year.  And he repeated his view that the insurgents’ momentum has been stopped in much of Afghanistan and reversed in several important areas, including Kandahar and Helmand Provinces.



The general said the effort to create local police forces in 70 key districts has been particularly important, along with a sharp increase in activity by U.S. special operations forces, working with Afghan troops.

He again endorsed President Barack Obama’s intention to begin drawing down the nearly 150,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by July.  But Petraeus stressed that the withdrawal and transition to Afghan responsibility must be gradual.

"As we embark on the process of transition, we should keep in mind the imperative of ensuring that the transition we take will be irreversible.  As the ambassadors of several ISAF [i.e., International Security Assistance Force] countries emphasized at one recent NATO meeting, we’ll get one shot at transition, and we need to get it right," he said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to announce the first areas to come under Afghan control during the Afghan New Year celebration next Monday.  Those areas have already been agreed to by a joint international and Afghan team and endorsed by NATO defense ministers.  

But General Petraeus said foreign forces will not completely leave those areas.  Rather, he spoke of “thinning out” the troop levels and sending some of them to other areas or to work as trainers for the Afghan army.  Relatively few will return to their home countries because, Petraeus said, most will be needed during the coming warmer months to ensure his force can maintain recent gains and expanded them.

"Although the insurgents are already striving to regain lost momentum and lost safe havens as we enter the spring fighting season, we believe that we will be able to build on the momentum achieved in 2010, though that clearly will entail additional tough fighting," he said.

Petraeus used what has become the standard description of progress in Afghanistan, calling it “fragile and reversible.”  NATO has set the end of 2014 as the target date for full Afghan security responsibility throughout the country.  Even then, officials say, U.S. and other foreign troops will need to remain to support the Afghan effort.  

But support for the war among Europeans has been low for a long time, and it appears to be waning among the American people as well.  A new public opinion poll published by The Washington Post newspaper and ABC News indicates that about two thirds of Americans oppose the war, a record high level.  And three quarters of Americans want a “substantial” withdrawal this year.

General Petraeus responded to the poll at Tuesday’s hearing.

"I can understand the frustration," he said. "We have been at this for 10 years.  We have spent an enormous amount of money.  We have sustained very tough losses and difficult life-changing wounds.  But I think it is important to remember why we are there at such a time.  That is where al-Qaida had its most important sanctuary in the world, and it had it under the Taliban."

Petraeus also said there is increased cooperation with Pakistani forces to squeeze insurgent groups between their safe havens in western Pakistan and U.S. and Afghan forces across the border.  And he said Iran appears to be increasing its support for the Afghan insurgents, with the recent seizure of a large shipment of more capable rockets than the Taliban has usually had in the past.  Petraeus said the shipment came from Iran’s elite Quds force.

The general also emphasized that the Afghanistan campaign is not only military.  He said the coalition will not be able to kill or capture its way to victory, and that civilian efforts to improve governance, fight corruption and support Afghan reconciliation are crucial to success, and to the eventual withdrawal of most of the foreign troops from Afghanistan.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, U.S. demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid