President George W. Bush says Afghanistan’s military forces, together with those of the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] allies, are standing up to terrorists:
“In Afghanistan, Taleban and al Qaida fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. . . .NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taleban and al-Qaida offensive – the first time the [NATO] alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area.”
During 2006, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force expanded its operations from north and northwestern Afghanistan to the country’s southern provinces, where Taleban insurgents increased their attacks. More than three-thousand-five-hundred people were killed in insurgent violence in Afghanistan last year.
The United States, twenty-six NATO countries, and other allies share the task of building up Afghanistan’s security forces. The U.S. and Germany are playing a major role in reforming the country’s police, which now number around sixty thousand. About thirty-six thousand soldiers serve in the Afghan army.
The goal is to boost that number in order to deal with threats from insurgents, al-Qaida terrorists, and narcotics traffickers. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says, “there’s been a lot of progress in Afghanistan,” including the performance of the Afghan army. “That force continues to grow in size and strength and confidence,” says Mr. Gates, and “is increasingly taking the lead in combat operations.”
Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai says his country is committed to defeating Taleban insurgents and their al-Qaida allies:
“The Afghan people and the international partners of us, the United States, NATO, are ready to give terrorism [terrorists] a serious blow when they come. And we want them to come and get defeated.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says that for Afghanistan, “this is an important time to secure the gains of the past and to build on them in the future and continue strengthening this government and this country.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.