News / Asia

    Gates Confident Afghan Strategy Working, But Outcome Not Assured

    Secretary Gates receives a briefing from officers at Combat Outpost Senjaray, Afghanistan
    Secretary Gates receives a briefing from officers at Combat Outpost Senjaray, Afghanistan
    Al Pessin

    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates ended a two-day visit to Afghanistan Friday saying he is encouraged that the strategy the United States adopted last December is working, but warning the outcome is not assured and U.S. troops will likely have a significant combat role for two or three more years. VOA's Al Pessin is traveling with the secretary and filed this report from Combat Outpost Senjaray, in the key southern province of Kandahar.

    Secretary Gates trudged through sand, rocks and searing heat at this outpost on the main road between Kandahar and Helmand - in a part of Zhari District that a senior officer described as one of the three toughest areas around Kandahar City. Gates awarded medals to U.S. troops, met some of their Afghan counterparts and talked to soldiers ranging from the most junior to the most senior. In the end, he said he came away "encouraged."

    "Everybody knows this is far from a done deal," said Robert Gates. "There is a lot of hard fighting to go. But the confidence of these young men and women that they can be successful gives me confidence."

    Gates said the troops know what they have to do and understand the importance of working with Afghan forces, and handing over responsibility to them as soon as possible.

    The secretary repeated that the July, 2011 date President Barack Obama has set is only the beginning of what is expected to be a gradual drawdown of U.S. forces here, and he put a rough timeframe on U.S. military involvement.

    "We see an inexorable process over the next two or three years in which we will be able to shift our primary role in helping Afghanistan from a military one to training and assistance and development," he said.

    Gates said there are already areas where Afghan forces could handle security on their own, but the process of removing U.S. forces will be handled carefully.

    Meanwhile, the top U.S. and NATO commander, General David Petraeus, says U.S. special forces troops are intensifying their assault on Taliban leaders, conducting more than 4,000 operations in the last 90 days, in addition to the deployment of surge forces to take control of more neighborhoods in key parts of the country. Secretary Gates said he expects the current approach to be validated by a U.S. government review set for December, its first anniversary.

    "The question to be addressed in December is whether the strategy is working, are we heading in the right direction, do we have enough evidence of progress that tells us we are in fact on the right track," said Robert Gates. "That's what our assessment is about. And based on what I've seen here today, I'm hopeful that we will be in that position."

    Still, the number two U.S. and NATO operational commander in Afghanistan, General David Rodriguez, told reporters here that while he expects to show progress in the volatile South by December, he can not promise "significant" progress. He said Taliban fighters are using larger roadside bombs made with material smuggled in from Pakistan, including one that destroyed a large, modern American armored vehicle on Monday, killing all five soldiers inside.

    Rodriguez says the Taliban is also conducting campaigns of "murder and intimidation" against people in the growing number of areas where U.S. and Afghan troops are taking control. He said although it is difficult to see the end of the Kandahar operation, "the beginning is moving on track."

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    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.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora