Defense

April 8, 2013

U.S. general: Taliban likely to be long-term threat

Robert Burns
Associated Press

The United States accepts that a diminished but resilient Taliban is likely to remain a military threat in some parts of Afghanistan long after U.S. troops complete their combat mission next year, the top U.S. military officer said Sunday.

In an Associated Press interview at this air field north of Kabul, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he is cautiously optimistic that the Afghan army will hold its own against the insurgency as Western troops pull back and Afghans assume the lead combat role. He said that by May or June, the Afghans will be in the lead throughout the country.

Asked whether some parts of the country will remain contested by the Taliban, he replied, ìYes, of course there will be.

And if we were having this conversation 10 years from now, I suspect there would (still) be contested areas because the history of Afghanistan suggests that there will always be contested areas, he said.

He and other U.S. commanders have said that ultimately the Afghans must reach some sort of political accommodation with the insurgents, and that a reconciliation process needs to be led by Afghans, not Americans. Thus the No. 1 priority for the U.S. military in its final months of combat in Afghanistan is to do all that is possible to boost the strength and confidence of Afghan forces.

Shortly after Dempsey arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday, the Taliban demonstrated its ability to strike.
It claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed five Americans – three soldiers and two civilians, including Anne Smedinghoff, a foreign service officer and the first American diplomat killed overseas since the terrorist attack Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya.

A NATO airstrike Ap, which came after a joint U.S.-Afghan forced encountered heavy fire from militants during an operation against a Taliban leader, killed 11 Afghan civilians, including 10 children, Afghan officials said.

There are now about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. That number is to drop to about 32,000 by February 2014, and the combat mission is to end in December 2014. Whether some number – perhaps 9,000 or 10,000 – remain into 2015 as military trainers and counterinsurgents is yet to be decided.

Dempsey spent two days talking to senior Afghan officials, including his counterpart, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, as well as top U.S. and allied commanders.

He also visited a U.S. base in the volatile eastern province of Paktika for an update on how U.S. troops are balancing the twin missions of advising Afghan forces and withdrawing tons of U.S. equipment as the war effort winds down.

Paktika is an example of a sector of Afghanistan that is likely to face Taliban resistance for years to come.

Bordering areas of Pakistan that provide haven for the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani network, Paktika has been among the more important insurgent avenues into the Afghan interior.

While the province has a functioning government, Taliban influence remains significant in less populated areas, as it has since U.S. forces first invaded the country more than 11 years ago.

There will be contested areas, and it will be the Afghans’ choice whether to allow those contested areas to persist, or, when necessary, take action to exert themselves into those contested area, he said.

Dempsey said he is encouraged by the recent development of coordination centers, including one in Paktika, where a wide range of Afghan government agencies work together on security issues. He called it a ìquiltî of government structures that links Kabul, the capital, to ordinary Afghans in distant villages.

In some parts of the country, Afghan villagers have shown their dissatisfaction with Taliban influence by taking up arms against the insurgents, even without being pushed by the U.S. or by Kabul. This has happened in recent weeks in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, a traditional stronghold of the Taliban. The Andar district of Ghazni province has seen a similar uprising.

We should encourage it, but we shouldn’t be seen as hijackingî these local movements, he said.
Dempsey said he discussed the uprisings with Karimi, the army chief, and the Afghan defense minister, Bismullah Khan Mohammadi. They told him they “appreciated that they should allow this to occur (and) they should probably nurture it. They don’t necessarily feel at this point as if they should tangibly support it.”

The Afghan government’s concern, Dempsey said, is that influential warlords could embrace these local movements and eventually leverage them to threaten the armed forces of the central government.

In a separate interview Sunday with al-Hurra, the Arabic-language satellite TV channel funded by the U.S. government, Dempsey was asked whether he worries that Syria, in the midst of a civil war, could become another Afghanistan.

ìI do. I have grave concerns that Syria could become an extended conflictî that drags on for many years, he said.




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


 
 

 

Headlines September 15, 2014

News: Navy identifies pilot presumed dead in crash - A Navy fighter pilot presumed dead after two fighter jets crashed in the far western Pacific Ocean has been identified.   Business: Boeing eyes 737-700 solution for new JSTARS - Boeing is officially planning a variant of its 737-700 commercial jetliner as a competitor for the Air Force’s...
 
 

News Briefs September 15, 2014

Australia contributing planes for anti-IS campaign Australia is preparing to contribute 600 troops and up to 10 military aircraft to the increasingly aggressive campaign against the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sept. 14. Abbott said Australia was responding to a formal request from the United States for specific...
 
 
Courtesy graphic

Lockheed Martin conducts flight tests of aircraft laser turret for DARPA

AFRL photograph The Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control turret that Lockheed Martin is developing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory has completed initial flight testing. T...
 

 

Lockheed Martin advances live, virtual, constructive training in flight test

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jvXmOW8L3mU Lockheed Martin successfully tested a new solution for integrated live, virtual and constructive training during a flight demonstration at the company’s Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas. During the flight test, a pilot flying in a live F-16 engaged in a synthetic training exercise with a pilot flying as wing...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover arrives at Martian mountain

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet’s Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission’s long-term prime destination. “Curiosity n...
 
 

Raytheon begins full rate production on TALON Laser Guided Rockets

Under a $117 million contract awarded to Raytheon, Raytheon Missile Systems has begun production of the TALON Laser Guided Rocket. In 2013, the Armed Forces General Headquarters of the United Arab Emirates awarded Tawazun a contract to procure the TALON Laser Guided Rocket. “Full rate production of the TALON LGR is a significant milestone for...
 




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>