Afghan Security Situation 'Quite Good,' Rumsfeld Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 29, 2002 All in all, the regional security situation in Afghanistan is going very well, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a recent interview with the Washington Times newspaper.
Reporters have looked for and covered the "peaks and valleys" during Operation Enduring Freedom in the search for front-page news, Rumsfeld told columnist Georgia Anne Geyer July 19.
"But if one steps back and looks at the total scenery, the Afghanistan security situation that gets reported on periodically as being terrible and so forth is really quite good," the secretary emphasized.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees are "voting with their feet," Rumsfeld noted, and are returning to Afghanistan after the U.S.- coalition military rout and defeat of the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Secondly, he added, humanitarian workers are moving across the country and performing their work.
"Food's being delivered, and roads are being built, wells are being dug," Rumsfeld remarked.
In terms of dealing with Taliban and al Qaeda influence, most of Afghanistan now appears secure, Rumsfeld pointed out.
"You've got regional security," he added. "Except for southeast (Afghanistan), it's really reasonably stable."
The U.S. military and its coalition partners are training a new Afghan National Army to enhance the new government's ability to effect stability, while U.S. troops are providing security for President Hamid Karzai at his request.
The U.S. defense secretary also praised the leadership of the fledging Afghan government, calling it "thoughtful and approaching things in a rational way."
Rumsfeld noted that the U.S. and its allies are continuing the campaign against worldwide terrorists.
"The pressure that has been put on them has been significant," he emphasized.
"Money's dried up. I'm sure that donors have been much more careful about whether they really wanted to do that, and get caught or be seen to do that," Rumsfeld explained.
Terrorists' ability to recruit, retain, move and communicate has been made more difficult, the secretary pointed out.
However, Rumsfeld emphasized, the war isn't over and despite military successes achieved in Afghanistan, terrorists are still a dangerous force to be reckoned with.
"They're still there, and there's a lot of them and they're well- trained, very well-trained, and they (still) have money," he said.