News / Asia

Top US Marine Predicts Security Transfer for Afghan South Will Take Years

The commandant of the United States Marine Corps said Tuesday that he expects his forces to be in southern Afghanistan for several more years, even though some U.S. troops will begin withdrawing from the country next July.  General James Conway noted that wrong expectations about President Barack Obama's Afghanistan strategy are helping the Taliban in the short term, but might come back to hurt them after the target date passes.  

In his final Pentagon news conference before retiring, General Conway said President Obama's plan to begin withdrawing U.S. forces next year will be carried out, but not in key and hotly-contested areas in southern Afghanistan, where the Marines operate.

"Though I certainly believe some American unit somewhere in Afghanistan will turn over responsibilities to Afghan security forces in 2011, I do not think they will be Marines," Conway said.  "Helmand and Kandahar [provinces], adjacent to it, are the birthplace of the Taliban.  I honestly think it will be a few years before conditions on the ground are such that turnover will be possible for us."

But Conway, who just returned from a visit to Afghanistan, said President Obama's declaration that he will begin reducing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by July 2011 is bolstering Taliban morale.

"In some ways, we think, right now, it's probably giving our enemy sustenance," the General said. "We think that he may be saying to himself, in fact we've intercepted communications that say, 'Hey, we only have to hold out for so long.'"

Conway said Taliban leaders are also using that impression to try to keep their fighters motivated in the face of a growing onslaught from U.S. Marines and other forces.  But the general said that effort by Taliban leaders will backfire when fighters realize they are wrong.

"What's the enemy going to say then?  What is he going say to his foot troops?  The foot troops have been believing what he has been saying," Conway said, adding "They're [i.e., U.S. troops] are all going to leave in the summer of next year, and come the fall we're still there hammering like we have been."

General Conway said his Marines, working with other foreign troops and Afghan forces, are making progress in Helmand Province and neighboring areas, which make up the Taliban heartland.  He said U.S. snipers are taking out Taliban snipers and that his troops are disrupting Taliban supply lines, making it more difficult for them to distribute bomb-making materials.  Conway said those moves have helped to sharply reduce the number of American casualties in Helmand this month.  But the general said the Taliban in the area will not be weak enough and the Afghan government forces will not be strong enough to allow for a foreign troop withdrawal there for several years.

Like other U.S. officials, General Conway noted that the key is to convince Afghan civilians to support the government and resist Taliban intimidation.  He said he does not expect an Iraq-style tribal "awakening," but he said that as Taliban fighters realize foreign forces are not giving up, there could be a move toward reconciliation, which he said would be a "game changer."

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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