News / Asia

US Cites Small Increase in Iranian Support for Afghan Insurgents

Lieutenant General Michael Oates (undated photo)
Lieutenant General Michael Oates (undated photo)
Al Pessin

The U.S. Army officer responsible for the Pentagon's effort to combat roadside bombs says there has been a slight increase in Iranian involvement with Afghan insurgents, but the level is still very low.  The officer says efforts to counter the deadly bombs are increasing as more U.S. and allied troops flow into Afghanistan, and he believes there will be a considerable positive impact in the coming months.

Lieutenant General Michael Oates says while there has been what he calls "a slight uptick" (increase) in Iranian support for Afghan insurgents, it has paled in comparison to Iranian involvement with Iraq's insurgency.

"Weapons systems generally associated with Iran and some of the more complicated detonation systems have not really materialized in Afghanistan," said  General Oates. "So my initial assessment would be that their lethal support has not been anywhere near what we saw in Iraq."

General Oates says information about Iranian involvement comes largely from Afghan and foreign detainees captured by the coalition.  But he cautions against assuming Iran's Quds Force is playing a significant role in Afghanistan, as it has in Iraq.

"If you have enough money, you can pretty much acquire about any type of explosive or military grade capability that you need in the world," he said. "And this is what concerns me about the Taliban.  They're resourced through the poppy trade, and with those resources can acquire lethal components and munitions from all over the world."

Roadside bombs, what the military calls Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs, have been the largest killer of U.S. troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  The number of American deaths from the devices in Afghanistan doubled last year, as the monthly average number of bombs that exploded or were found increased from about 500 per month to about 800 per month.  General Oates says in the 90 days since he took command of the anti-IED effort, about 50 Americans have been killed and 400 wounded by roadside bombs.

the general says he does not expect that intensity to continue throughout this year, but he is quick to add that the progress will not come quickly or without more casualties.

"If things remain consistent, we're going to see more casualties in the short term," said Oates. "But in the long term, as we just saw in Iraq, we're going to improve the Afghan security force, we're going to secure the population using them, largely, and the IED will become less effective as a weapons system because the Taliban will become less effective as an enemy.  That is the thesis.  We have proven it once.  And I am very optimistic that we'll prove it in Afghanistan."

General Oates says his agency is increasing anti-roadside bomb capabilities in Afghanistan as the United States and its allies send in nearly 40,000 more troops.  He says some of the effort involves high technology, but he says a big part of the effort is better training for the troops on how to recognize and avoid the bombs.  His organization is also working to disrupt insurgent funding, and networks of groups involved in making and planting the bombs.

The general would not speculate about why Iran has apparently not been as active with Afghanistan's insurgency as it has been in Iraq.  But Larry Goodson, a professor Middle East Studies at the U.S. Army War College, told VOA recently Iranian policy toward Afghanistan is a mix of regional strategy and bi-lateral practicality.

"Iran, as an ally, if you will, of India in this game, is a potential player," said Larry Goodson. "And if you want a much less cynical view, Iran is a neighbor.  It has a lot of potentially shared interests, at least, in terms of commerce and counter-narcotics and so-forth with Afghanistan."

Indeed, General Oates at the Pentagon says he believes Iran is working more through trade and cultural exchanges to try to influence Afghanistan's future, than it is through support for the insurgents.    

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid