SACEUR: What’s Working In Afghanistan

Admiral Stavridis receiving an update from Colonel Herman in Afghanistan

From Adm. James Stavridis, U.S. European Command: Just back from two days in Kabul, and when I think back on the situation a year ago, the progress is very encouraging.

Lt. Gen. Bill Caldwell, in his position of Commander of the NATO Training Mission, is in charge of training Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) throughout the country. He currently has over 30,000 Afghans in training as he builds their Army and Police to over 250,000 by this fall. Bill is full of energy, and brings a great deal of deep experience in training to the job. He has a multinational staff, with senior officers from most of the 46 nations that make up ISAF. Ensuring that he receives the right number and quality of trainers is my top priority as SACEUR. …

I’m encouraged and cautiously optimistic about Afghanistan. In addition to the good work by the security forces, there are increasingly good indicators about the economy and society (GDP up 20% last year; potentially huge mining deposits of iron, copper, lithium, and other minerals and metals; 12 million cell phones; 6 million children in schools, doubled over five years, over 40 % of them girls; number of teachers nationwide has doubled). Afghans seem to recognize this progress, and many national polls show strong confidence in the future of the country (70%+) and approval for the government (60%+), very favorable compared to many western countries.

Of concern, violence is up markedly over last year, largely the result of the efforts of both the ANSF and ISAF to take on the Taliban in their “home waters” down south. It will take perseverance and grit to get through what will be a dangerous and tough summer. The insurgency is stubborn and resilient, although largely ineffective in their attempts to attack our forces beyond the toll of IEDs. Overall, there are many challenges ahead; yet I would argue the prognosis for Afghanistan looks brighter today than a year ago, and I believe it will continue to improve.  (photo: U.S. European Command)

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