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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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