News / Asia

US Military Remains Optimistic About Afghanistan

Battles between NATO troops and Taliban fighters continue in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province
Battles between NATO troops and Taliban fighters continue in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province

Multimedia

As the battle for control of Kandahar Province continues, efforts at reconciliation are also moving ahead. President Obama plans, by December, to reassess his strategy, based on progress made in breaking the back of the Taliban at least in Kandahar. While the U.S. military remains optimistic, some analysts say the optimism should be tempered based on what they saw on the ground.

Battles between NATO troops and Taliban fighters continue in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province. The U.S. military sees the conflict in Kandahar as a potential indicator of how well President Obama's surge is working. Mr. Obama plans to re-assess that strategy next month.

"I have to say it is still hard fighting, it is work in progress," said NATO Brigadier General Josef Blotz. "It will take some more weeks and months to actually completely clear the entire area of Kandahar city and the contiguous districts "

Reporting in the U.S. media is often contradictory. Some reports say NATO is making steady progress ahead of the December deadline. Others say the Taliban is melting away rather than fight.

Two reporters who recently returned from Afghanistan say the optimism must be tempered to take account of the reality on the ground. They spoke at the New American Foundation in Washington.

Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post says now when Taliban fighters try to melt away, NATO troops are going after them. They are even killing from overhead - using drones like this one.

"They say this is having an effect, that the Taliban is getting dispirited, that this has something to do with why some people at least want to talk now or want to reintegrate," she said. "The problem is, at least from a journalistic standpoint, that we have no way to prove this."

Once the troops rout the Taliban, the next step is tougher. NATO troops try to win the trust of local residents.  

Anna Badkhen has reported from Afghanistan for several newspapers. She says for some villagers, the Taliban is less of a concern than the Americans. She asked one Afghan if he was worried about the Taliban coming to his village.

"He said, No, I have nothing to worry about the Taliban. I am very religious. I already pray five times a day. My wives already can't go outside because I don't let them. What I am worried about is that when the Taliban are going to come here, then the Americans are going to come here, and raid my house and bomb my village and God forbid they are going to hurt someone and scare my children," Badkhen said.

DeYoung is skeptical about reported talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. She says it's not certain that the Afghans talking to the government represent the Taliban.

"I think it is not clear at all at this point whether those people who are having these very preliminary talks are having them on behalf of the people who actually have the power to implement any kind of agreement," she said.

Anna Badkhen doubts the Afghan government can lure young Afghans who have joined the Taliban for money, not for ideology. She says the Taliban is already recruiting new fighters from among the thousands of Afghan refugees returning home from Pakistan.

"Now they are coming back because the Karzai government is inviting them back and then it is dumping them in infertile deserts with no access to healthcare, no access to jobs," she said. "These people are being recruited by the Taliban in the north."

Some analysts say the military is the only group in or outside Afghanistan that sees progress. The NGO workers, election monitors, and longtime residents the two reporters spoke to saw nothing but gloom.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid