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Task Force Works to Ensure Better Life for Afghans

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2005 – Coalition forces continue to support the efforts of the government of Afghanistan to establish freedom and a better way of life for the Afghan people, an American official said in the Afghan city of Kandahar today.

Combined Task Force Bronco is the major coalition force operating in southern Afghanistan, the unit's commander, Army Col. Richard Pedersen, explained during a news briefing.

The task force's overall purpose is to create lasting stability and security, which should enable reconstruction and prevent the re-emergence of international terrorist organizations, he said.

Pedersen said the effective integration of all entities and agencies living and working together in southern Afghanistan is the absolute key to success. Agencies working together in Afghanistan include: coalition forces, provincial and district governments, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army and Police, contractors, and various nongovernmental organizations.

Pedersen said the partnership allowed successful voter registration and Afghanistan's first presidential election. "We now continue to mature this partnership so that it continues to bring about more and more effective reconstruction, security and, in the short term, successful parliamentary elections," he said. "The partnership ultimately seeks to create Afghan capacity -- Afghan security, reconstruction and development capacity."

Currently, Pedersen said, coalition forces have the initiative over the insurgents. "They are reacting to us, not us to them," he said. "Although it's fair to say we're winning this counterinsurgency, the insurgency is not yet defeated. We're watching very closely to see what the insurgents choose to do in the next few months."

Information in the media supports the belief that the Taliban leadership is fracturing, both within the Taliban ranks and between Taliban and al Qaeda, Pedersen said. He added that many Taliban insurgents desire to come home and become peaceful members of a new, free Afghan society. Reconstruction and development efforts continue to move forward at an ever-increasing rate of speed, he said.

The task force's goal, Pedersen said, is to create a better life for the people of Afghanistan in short order. That includes creating better opportunities for the Afghan children who will inherit the country in years to come.

"The southern governors have been working hard to create long-range development objectives that are nested with the Afghanistan National Development Plan," Pedersen said. "Collectively, these objectives effectively create a strategic vision for southern Afghanistan five years out. Provincial reconstruction teams are working to create annual incremental objectives that support this Southern Region Strategic Development Plan."

The partnership continues to grow and improve everyday, he said, adding that all partners are committed to creating the conditions for Afghans to fulfill their human potential as free people.

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