Coalition Winning in Afghanistan, General Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2006 Despite a rise in attacks in Afghanistan, the coalition is winning the war there, said the coalition commander in the country.
However, Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry said, while the coalition is winning, "we have not won the war yet." The general spoke on CNN's "Late Edition" yesterday.
He said the United States is well on its way to accomplishing two crucial missions in Afghanistan. "The first was to defeat the al Qaeda network and to topple them from ... their control of Afghanistan," he said. "The second was to create the conditions so that the Taliban and international terrorism could not come back in."
The Taliban and its al Qaeda allies are not in control of Afghanistan, and in fact are becoming increasingly desperate, he said. The coalition has made great progress creating conditions where terrorists cannot move back in.
Eikenberry said the fight in Afghanistan is not about one man - Osama bin Laden - but against a terrorist network. "This is an international global network with social connections, with financial connections and it has command- and- control connections throughout the entire globe," he said. "The destruction of the network is our primary mission.
"When you talk about a network, think about an electrical power grid system that's out there," he continued. "If you cut one line, momentarily, the lights might drop and the power surges in another direction.
"You take a transformer out, the system might start to dip, but it comes back on. We're attacking a global network and we're making huge progress right now in taking out leadership nodes and continuing on the attack."
He said bin Laden is important because he must be brought to justice and because his capture would bring closure to the American people and the international community.
The general spoke about NATO's assumption of control in Afghanistan. He said no one should think NATO taking control means any lessening of commitment by the United States. He said the U.S. military will remain the largest foreign military force in Afghanistan even after NATO assumes control.
He said U.S. officials are confident of NATO's ability to work in the country - NATO forces first entered Afghanistan two and a half years ago - but a unilateral U.S. capability to strike at al Qaeda is needed. "We are keeping that counterterrorist capability, which we have, which is a very robust capability, and that remains in place," he said.
Eikenberry said that the only thing that can stop the coalition from success in Afghanistan is a loss of will. He said the international community needs to exhibit more patience.
He also told the American people "that the troops they have forward in Afghanistan right now, every day are moving forward and carrying the flag forward, are doing great things. They should rest well at night that we've got the best military ever that's fielded, and it's on the offensive in Afghanistan."