More US troops for Afghanistan

The World

LM �These additional troops who represent at least a 10% increase of US boots on the ground, some people say it’s a mini-surge, referring to the so-called surge in Iraq. What difference do you think this increase in US troops will make on the ground in Afghanistan?� SJ �the existing level of the combined NATO, US and Afghan forces are not adequate and the short term solution is to increase the international forces by up to 5-7,000. but the long term solution is to increase the capabilities of the Afghan National Army and police force to defend Afghanistan.� LM �you say they’ll make the ultimate difference?� SJ �yes it does. The Afghan Army and police force is more sustainable and the job of defending Afghanistan is for the Afghans.� LM �And let me ask you then what you make of the proposal by a former American ambassador to Afghanistan who suggested in a New York Times opinion piece that Afghanistan should institute a draft. There’s a long tradition of a draft in Afghanistan but there isn’t one right now. how come?� SJ �this is one of the suggestions to make the Natoinal Army more sustainable, but in order to fight the terrorists who are becoming more and more lethal and dangerous, a professional army is needed in Afghanistan. If we reinstated the draft in Afghanistan we’d be more or less to defending the Afghan borders in the form of a paramilitary police force.� LM �and how would this be greeted by the Afghan people themselves?� SJ �There is no shortage of courage or commitment on the part of the Afghan people to defend Afghanistan. What we’re seeking is the training and equipment to do so. So even if the Afghan government reinstated the draft, there would be a lot of willingness on the part of the Afghan people to enlist and serve their country.� LM �the Taliban themselves seem to be implementing their own surge despite the presence of 40,000 foreign troops there right now. with the snow that’s melting in the coming months, do you believe we can expect another offensive again and I wonder what you can tell us what accounts for the current Taliban strength recently?� SJ �there was talk of a Taliban offensive during the last Spring, it really didn’t materialize in the form of a major threat to the international or Afghan forces. What the Taliban doing more of are suicide attacks and roadside bombing. We will be seeing increased terrorist attacks and roadside bombing in Afghanistan, certainly, but when the Taliban attack, the Afghan security forces or NATO forces in large formations, they lose in big number.� LM �do you have family in Kabul right now?� SJ �I just returned from Kabul three days ago, I was staying in a hotel, the same hotel that was the target of the bombing. I still remember the face of actually the two female guards that was standing guard at the entrance of the lobby. So I, yes I do have family and friends there.� LM �and when you were there three days ago, was there a discernable difference in the threat of violence there? Did it feel more dangerous than the last time you were in Kabul?� SJ �frankly, not really. Life is busy in Kabul and life goes on. Unfortunately we are used to these kinds of attacks. What people are concerned about is improving their daily life and because of the winter in Kabul and the high price of wheat, people are suffering economically a lot. This winter was extremely cold and it was snowing in the past five days in Kabul. So economic concerns are more in the mind of the Afghan people than some of these types of terrorist attacks.� LM �you’re in Washington right now. to what extent are you paying attention to whether or not the candidates are talking about Afghanistan at all and seem to have an understanding of the issues in Afghanistan?� SJ �that’s a very good question. Fortunately, all the candidates are talking about Afghanistan and fortunately the support for Afghanistan is bipartisan. My job is to make sure I provide them with a deep knowledge of the Afghanistan issues. The degree of the knowledge of the different candidates of the issues pertaining to Afghanistan differs and that’s why I tried to engage them all and provide them with adequate information about the challenges in Afghanistan and the progress that’s been made in Afghanistan in the past six years.� LM �what are the misconceptions that you’re trying to rectify?� SJ �Sometimes people draw a comparison between Afghanistan and Iraq, and Afghanistan is certainly not Iraq, we have our own challenges and accomplishments. So one of the things I do is to particularly and clearly indicate how Afghanistan differs from Iraq.� LM �what are you saying?� SJ �in Afghanistan the people are willing to partner with the international community and in Afghanistan we have the consensus of the international community on the need to stay engaged in Afghanistan. What we need to do in Afghanistan is to commit more resources to invest in building the national institutions such as a national army and police force and enable the Afghan government to provide the services and protection to the Afghan people.� LM �it sounds like you’re encouraged that at least Afghanistan is in their sites and they’re talking about it?� SJ �certainly we are encouraged for the fact that the commitment for Afghanistan is bipartisan and we are very grateful for the resources being allocated to Afghanistan. But helping in Afghanistan is investing in regional security and global security and the more we invest up front the sooner for the need for international troops to be in Afghanistan will be relieved and the job of defending Afghanistan and the Afghan people will be carried out by the sons of Afghanistan. We’re willing to carry out this mission for the sake of Afghanistan, for the sake of the region, and for the sake of international security.�

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