NATO Force Committed in Southern Afghanistan
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2006 The NATO force in southern Afghanistan has met resistance from the Taliban and other criminal elements, but the force remains committed to establishing a safe and secure environment in the region, NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe said Aug. 4.
“NATO's operations in the southern region are focused on establishing a safe and secure environment in order to permit the government and international aid organizations to bring elements of reconstruction and hope for a better future to this region,” U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, said in a released statement. “We also intend by our actions to send a strong and unmistakable message to anyone who wishes to oppose us in this effort that they will not be successful."
NATO is operating in an area that has been lawless for many years, but community leaders have been cooperative and are even asking for help, Jones said. In one case Aug. 3, community leaders requested NATO’s help in providing safe passage for farmers going to the market. This operation also interfered with the use of roads by narcotics cartels, he said.
The NATO forces will continue to have a strong presence in southern Afghanistan to ensure the Afghan people have every opportunity to recover from years of oppression, Jones said.
"Fighting and violence (are) not new to the Afghan people, but their newfound ability to reap the benefits and freedoms that come with democracy and functioning democratic institutions is increasingly manifest throughout the country," he said.
"We remain dedicated to our mission and will not be intimidated by the challenges we face,” he continued. “The opposition will not be successful in the face of a committed and capable NATO force that is willing and ready to do what is required to bring peace and security to those who have had none."