Defense

September 10, 2012

NATO’s Rasmussen discusses Afghanistan, Syria, 9/11 attacks

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed progress in Afghanistan, the brutal civil war in Syria and tomorrow’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks during his monthly news conference.

Rasmussen called the 11th anniversary of the attacks “a moment to remember the citizens of 25 NATO and partner countries who died that day, and all the victims of terrorist atrocities around the alliance and around the world, from Madrid and London to Istanbul, Bali and beyond.”

Speaking from NATO headquarters in Brussels, Rasmussen said terrorism never can be justified or tolerated, and that NATO is determined to play its full role in the fight against it. “It is vital to our own security, and it is vital for the values and principles of international law that we uphold,” he added.

Allies and partners work tirelessly to detect and prevent terrorist acts, the secretary general said, “and that is why we have more than 120,000 soldiers in Afghanistan – to ensure that country can never again serve as a sanctuary [from which] terrorists can plan and launch attacks against our countries.”

On the months-long civil war being waged between the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Syrian rebels, Rasmussen said NATO has no intention of intervening militarily in the conflict.

“We do believe the right way forward is to find a political solution,” he said, “and we urge the international community to send a strong and unified message to the Syrian leadership to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. So our position remains unchanged.”

Regarding Afghanistan, Rasmussen said the alliance views insider attacks on the coalition by Afghan security forces with great concern.

“We are looking very carefully into each one, and we are doing everything we can, together with our Afghan partners, to reduce the risks as much as we can,” the secretary general said, outlining some of the steps being taken.

“The vetting and screening of recruits is getting stronger. We are seeing better counterintelligence efforts. [International Security Assistance Force] and Afghan forces are getting more training to understand cultural differences. And we are constantly adapting the measures to protect our forces to the situation on the ground,” he explained.

Last week, Rasmussen said, he discussed the attacks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and they agreed to do everything they can to tackle the problem.

“We will simply not allow the enemies of Afghanistan to change our strategy,” Rasmussen said, “and we will not allow them to drive a wedge between us and our Afghan partners.”

Every day, he noted, tens of thousands of ISAF and Afghan troops fight together against the same threat and for the same goal.

“We know that despite these tragic incidents, the vast majority of our forces have a bond of trust with their Afghan comrades and many Afghans have sacrificed their lives for ours.”

Challenges and setbacks should not overshadow the significant progress made so far, Rasmussen added.

“Afghan forces are getting more professional, more confident and better equipped,” he said. “Within weeks, they will reach their full strength of 352,000.”

The Afghan forces are genuinely moving into the lead, assuming more responsibility in the campaign and taking the lead in providing security for three quarters of the population, the secretary general said, and every Afghan province is part of this process.

“The insurgents are being pushed further back from the population,” he said, adding that 80 percent of their attacks take place in areas where just 20 percent of the population lives.

In what Rasmussen called an “unstoppable” process of transition, ISAF will continue to train and support the Afghan forces over the next 28 months so they can assume full responsibility for security.

“It makes a big difference that the face of the defense of Afghanistan in the future will be a very visible Afghan face,” the secretary-general said. “The enemies of Afghanistan will now be faced with their compatriots in the fighting. This will also make it more difficult for the Taliban and others to claim that this is a fight against foreign invaders, which is one of their most popular propaganda claims.

“Already now it’s clear that the Taliban can’t prevail on the battlefield,” he continued, “and that’s the reason why the Taliban and others resort to cowardly attacks against civilians, including children, as we have seen recently.”

As Afghans step forward, ISAF is moving into a supporting role, he said. “Planning for our new mission – to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces – is already under way, and I expect the initial guidance to be completed in the next few weeks,” he added.

Rasmussen said he will discuss the NATO mission in Afghanistan and other global security challenges in New York when the United Nations General Assembly meets later this month.

“We all know the cost of our mission in Afghanistan, and the investment we have made over the years,” he said. “So let me say this: we have an important goal and a mandate from the United Nations. Our strategy is set, our timeline is clear. And we will stay the course.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Coast Guard photograph

Navy demonstrates unmanned helicopter operations aboard Coast Guard cutter

http://static.dvidshub.net/media/video/1412/DOD_102145893/DOD_102145893-512×288-442k.mp4 Coast Guard photograph An MQ-8B Fire Scout UAS is tested off the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf near Los Angeles, Dec. 5 2014. The Coast...
 
 
Boeing photograph

C-40A Clipper delivered to U.S. Naval Reserve ahead of schedule

Boeing photograph The Navy’s 13th C-40A departs Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 21 and heads for Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 61, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, one month ahead of schedule....
 
 

U.S., U.K. sign framework for future naval cooperation

Leaders of the U.S. and British navies agreed on a shared vision for closer cooperation Dec. 11, the culmination of a yearlong effort that will build on a long-standing maritime partnership over the next 15 years. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and his counterpart in the United Kingdom, First Sea Lord Sir George...
 

 
Navy photograph by PO1 Shannon D. Barnwell

Navy decommissions USS Norfolk

Navy photograph by PO1 Shannon D. Barnwell The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Norfolk (SSN 714) returns to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk after completing its final deployment. Norfolk will begin the inactivation pro...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO3 Edward Guttierrez III

Navy tests news unmanned underwater vehicle at JEBLC-FS

Navy photograph by PO3 Edward Guttierrez III The GhostSwimmer vehicle, developed by the Chief of Naval Operations Rapid Innovation Cell project Silent NEMO, undergoes testing at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek – For...
 
 
Navy photograph by JoAnna Delfin

Navy moving forward with LCS

Navy photograph by JoAnna Delfin The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) is moored at Apra Harbor on U.S. Naval Base Guam. Fort Worth is conducting its maiden 16-month rotational deployment in support of the Indo-Asia-P...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>