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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs