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Christian Science Monitor
October 12, 2006
Pg. 8

A Truly Multinational Force Is Moving Afghanistan Forward

The assertions made in Carl Robichaud's Sept. 21 Opinion piece, "Failings of the Rumsfeld doctrine," that "America's efforts in Afghanistan... are unraveling" due in part to America's supposed failure to lead a "genuinely multinational force" are baseless.

Today, NATO holds operational responsibility for over three-quarters of Afghanistan. Some 20,000 troops from 37 NATO and non-NATO nations are committed to the effort. (This is in addition to the roughly 20,000 US forces in the country.) One wonders exactly how many countries need to be involved before a mission moves from being a "handful of Western countries" to "genuinely multinational" in Mr. Robichaud's book.

The only efforts that are "unraveling" are those of our enemies, as Qari Mohammed Yousaf Ahmadi, generally viewed as the Taliban's chief spokesman, stated on Sept. 15: "The Taliban forces have conducted a tactical retreat."

As Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, commanding general of Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan noted last month: "NATO and US-led coalition and Afghan national security forces are moving aggressively to deny the enemy safe havens, to interdict his movement roots, and most importantly to extend the authority of the central government.... [T]he progress we're making in Afghanistan is significant."

Dorrance Smith, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.

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