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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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