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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid