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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid