Enemy’s Nightmare Coming True In Afghanistan
By Dialogo March 07, 2011
As U.S. military forces move toward withdrawal from Iraq and transition in Afghanistan, mission requirements remain numerous and strategically vital, the head of U.S. Central Command said.
Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, outlined the status of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas within his command’s area of responsibility.
“Centcom’s main effort is in Afghanistan, where along with our Afghan and coalition partners, we are making undeniable progress, though some of our gains at this time remain fragile and reversible,” Mattis said.
In the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said, al-Qaida is under the most pressure they have experienced since 2001.
“Over the past year, our enemies have lost leaders, battle space, maneuver room and the initiative,” he said.
The greatest success over the past year has been the Afghan security forces’ “quantifiable and qualifiable growth in capability,” Mattis said, adding that he supports plans to increase Afghan forces by between 45,000 and 70,000 new members.
“With [their] improving quality and combat performance we are seeing the enemy’s worst nightmare coming of age,” the U.S. Central Command, known as CENTCOM, commander said.
“The enemy’s strategy has been undercut by the clear commitment of the international community and the Afghan government to begin, this summer, a process of fully transitioning responsibility to Afghan lead by 2014,” Mattis said, adding that the pace of withdrawal will be based on ground conditions.
The overall campaign is on track in Afghanistan, he said, but there will be tough fighting ahead as the enemy tries to regain the initiative.
“We must also redouble our efforts to address challenges in the areas of governance and development in Afghanistan,” he said.
Turning to Pakistan, Mattis said, “We are strengthening and deepening our security partnership with Islamabad, even as we work to overcome years of mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides.”
Pakistan has shifted a quarter of its army, 140,000 troops, to its western border, and coalition forces are conducting “hammer-and-anvil” operations in close cooperation with Pakistani forces on either side of that border, Mattis said.
Pakistan has conducted significant counterinsurgency operations over the past decade, particularly in the past two years, he said, and has suffered 2,757 troops killed and 8,549 wounded.
While the situation in Afghanistan remains his top focus, Mattis said, Iraq is gaining stability and the planned U.S. transition from a military- to a civilian-led effort is underway.
“As we transition to civilian lead in Iraq, it is essential that the State Department be sufficiently resourced to solidify relationships between the United States and Iraq for the future,” he said.