U.S. General James L. Jones, supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization says that NATO will expand its forces in Afghanistan to include the entire country. This expansion will increase Afghan mission forces to over twenty-thousand troops.
The United States has at least twenty-one thousand troops in Afghanistan, some of which will be incorporated into the expanded NATO forces. The U.S. will continue to field a combat force, independent of NATO, that will work with Afghan security forces to combat the Taleban and al-Qaida terrorists.
Afghan and coalition forces have stepped-up pressure on Taleban remnants and recaptured two towns taken by the Taleban in recent fighting in Afghanistan's Helmand province. "Our troops launched an attack on Garmser and thank God we recaptured it," said Afghan army General Rahmatullah Roufi. Taleban forces also yielded the nearby town of Naway-I-Barkzayi. "The Taleban appears to be bullying their way around some of the smaller towns in remote areas," said U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Paul Fitzpatrick, "but they have no capability to lay claim to any piece of ground."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. and its allies are taking the fight to the Taleban:
"In some parts of Afghanistan, there has been more intense fighting this year than in a while. But that's because we are really engaging the military forces of the coalition and really engaging the enemy."
The Taleban continues to target Afghan civilians. The villagers of Neizi Kran Shaku were awakened at midnight to find their school ablaze. The villagers captured five Taleban extremists responsible for the attack. "We're not sure exactly how, but in some way we're going to continue our teaching," said village elder Abdul Dager. The extremists, he says, "don't want the people to have a good life."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States has a responsibility, along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to strengthen the Afghan security and police forces. "I'm quite sure," says Ms. Rice, "that with that kind of commitment that we will be able to resolve the security problem."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.