Rumsfeld: 'Mission Complete' When Afghanistan Is Secure
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2002 Afghanistan is "an untidy place, but it's a lot tidier than it used to be," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Much has been accomplished in Afghanistan , but the U.S.-led coalition mission won't be complete until security is restored at several levels, Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee July 31.
There is security of the leaders who were elected by the loya jirga, because it's important for that government to survive and do its job, he said. There's security in the major cities and the ability of humanitarian workers to provide the needs of people.
"There's the problem of border security. They need border guards," he continued. "There's the problem of police. They need police. There's the task of dealing with the al Qaeda and the Taliban to see that they don't come back and attempt to reassert themselves.
"There are also potentially conflicts between factions within the country," he added. "There are also drug lords and people doing drug trafficking. There's also crime, normal crime."
Eventually, Rumsfeld said, the Afghan government would assume all these responsibilities. Right now, however, the transitional government doesn't have the ability to go after al Qaeda and Taliban forces without the cooperation of coalition forces.
The transitional government, however, is beginning to have some capability to start dealing with some security issues, Rumsfeld said. It remains to be seen how fast the civil side and the new Afghan National Army can take over some responsibilities.
"My goal is to have the Afghan government be successful and systematically, incrementally, begin to develop the kinds of institutions of government that they can take over these responsibilities," Rumsfeld said. "It's a difficult task, but we've got a lot of coalition countries trying to help, and I think that the work is under way."
Expanding the International Security Assistance Force would be "useful," Rumsfeld said, but no countries are stepping forward to do that.
"We've had a good deal of difficulty, first of all, recruiting the original group of countries to serve in the International Security Assistance Force," the secretary said. The British led the first rotation, and Turkey now leads the second. "Turkey leaves at the end of this year, and we're going to have to recruit a new successor for that."
The primary U.S. mission is to go after the al Qaeda and the Taliban, he said. An additional task is helping to support the ISAF with logistics, intelligence and communications and quick-reaction support, if necessary. Another task is helping to train the Afghan national army and raise money for it.
"And so we feel that our plate is pretty full, and it would be an inappropriate use of our forces to use them as additional International Security Assistance Force troops," Rumsfeld said. "We feel that trying to stop terrorists is our first priority, and our second priority is to support the existing ISAF, and our third priority is to try to train an Afghan national army."
By the end of December, U.S. military officials expect about 3,000 to 4,000 Afghan national soldiers will be trained, U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks told the committee. The U.S. Central Command chief said he expects that number to be about 8,000 soldiers by next summer and 13,000 by the end of 2003.
How long U.S. forces will conduct the training is a policy decision that will be made in the future, Franks said. "My suspicion is that we will begin to look at approaches to provide that training which may give relief to our uniformed people who are conducting that training now," he said.