Craddock: More NATO Troops in Afghanistan Will Lead to Stability
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 10, 2007 It will take more troops to conduct a combination of security and stability operations to end fighting in Afghanistan, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe said here today.
To succeed, U.S. Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock said, “you must clear, you must hold, you must build.”
Craddock spoke to reporters here at the start of the 43rd Munich Security Policy Conference. The annual international conference followed two days of informal NATO defense ministerial talks in Seville, Spain, where the force level of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan was a prime topic.
While the NATO meetings were not “a force-generation conference,” Craddock said he was able to present his assessment of the Afghanistan situation and have “forthright, candid and fruitful” dialogue.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force needs “full sourcing” to provide the security level international “builders” need to provide the long-term, economic investment that will create jobs and, ultimately, stability, Craddock said.
Until then, fighting will continue, since the Taliban has an enormous recruiting ground for foot soldiers among the 2 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, he said. Most of these refugees have no ideological ties, he said. They become Taliban soldiers to earn a wage to live.
“They feel there are no opportunities in life and they’re looking for a way to feed their children or put a roof over their families’ heads,” Craddock said. “The key is driving a wedge between the foot soldiers and the hard core ideologues, the diehard extremists who will never change.”
The international community can create a “wedge,” he said, by creating jobs, providing social services, and building hospitals and schools for Afghan children.
Craddock said he has made two trips to Afghanistan since replacing U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones in December as commander at Supreme Headquarters Allied Forces in Europe. He said he came away from both trips encouraged by the progress he saw.
“I would be the first to admit there’s much to be done,” he said. “There are challenges. There are problems.” But, he added, the comprehensive approach of concurrently employing military operations along with reconstruction and development operations is underway and moving forward.
Based on a review of the mission requirements, NATO officials have determined more troops are need for the dual-pronged approach. While acknowledging that more forces are needed in Afghanistan, Craddock would not provide numbers, which he said are operational in nature.
Earlier this week, Craddock released a combined joint statement of requirements on what’s needed for the fight in Afghanistan in terms of troop levels, equipment and support personnel. NATO’s ministers and chiefs of defense are being asked to review the requirements to see what each country could contribute.
NATO last reviewed the mission requirements 13 months ago, he said, and conditions have changed since then, he said.
“We do a great job of planning,” Craddock said. “We don’t do a great job at monitoring current, day to day activities, and reassessing and adjusting and revising where necessary to face the reality that the world changes.”
Craddock thought it was essential to validate the original force level needed to meet the mission requirements and pointed out that those forces were never fully provided. “We never received all the forces that we deemed necessary to accomplish the mission required,” he said.
“I broke it into three categories: priorities needed that have yet to be filled; new requirements; and revisions necessary,” he said. “Over the period of time ISAF had operated, we’ve made adjustments and we’ve changed and operated so we had a better insight for what’s needed for the future.”
Since the mission in Afghanistan began, NATO progressively assumed responsibility for the country south, east and then all of Afghanistan.
There also have been new developments with regard to movement along the porous border with Pakistan. Craddock said he met with Pakistani officials two weeks ago to discuss better border control.
“They have to step up and play a greater role in the control of their border with Afghanistan,” he said. “I received indications that they do feel that there is inadequate control, and they told me they’re taking measures to address this and to provide greater control.”
Right now, Craddock said, ISAF has the ability is to work security aspects throughout the country, particularly in the southeast where the security is less than in the north and west. “That’s where the Taliban come in; that’s the heartland and the homeland,” he said.
What’s needed, he said, is adequate numbers of troops to provide security and, at the same time, implement the stability operations, the “quick-impact projects” such as building schools and installing roads.
“Right now, the commanders are finding that, without adequate forces available, they have to move from one to the other, and they’re continually shifting around,” he said.
Once ISAF forces leave an area, the Taliban moves back in. “You must maintain presence, and with presence, the Taliban does not come back in,” Craddock stressed.
Moving troops around to do both security and stability, he said limits flexibility, he said. “And it is causing us to have to retake lost ground.”
Given a generous contribution by the United States, an additional contribution by the United Kingdom, and the current security situation, he said, “There are adequate forces right now to effect security. There are not adequate forces to do the other things that need to be done concurrently.”
Craddock said ISAF is doing an excellent job on such quick-return projects as fixing problems in local communities. What’s missing is the long-term investment and development of jobs and infrastructure.
This work must be “pushed out to the provincial governors, to the tribal elders,” he said. “They are the ones who know what has to happen and what their priorities in terms of delivering these services and this infrastructure to the people.”