On U.S. President Barack Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan on March 28th, he reiterated the mission goals - to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and its extremist allies and prevent their return to the region.
This will be done by denying al-Qaeda safe haven and reversing the Taliban's momentum, and by strengthening the capacity of Afghan security forces and the Afghan government so that they can take responsibility for not only Afghanistan’s security but also for providing the basic services the Afghan people need and deserve.
As President Obama said, "I'm very pleased to see that there's been some excellent efforts in terms of partnering Afghan national security forces with U.S. and coalition forces. We think that points to the direction that all of us are interested in -- a day when Afghanistan is going to be able to provide for its own security but continue a long-term strategic partnership with the United States:"
"Our strategy includes a military effort that takes the fight to the Taliban while creating the conditions for greater security and a transition to the Afghans; but also a civilian effort that improves the daily lives of the Afghan people, and combats corruption; and a partnership with Pakistan and its people, because we can’t uproot extremists and advance security and opportunity unless we succeed on both sides of the border."
But success on the battlefield against the Taliban is only half the battle. More is needed, as President Obama stated, to promote the "civilian process of ensuring that agricultural production, energy production, good governance, rule of law, anticorruption efforts -- all these things end up resulting in an Afghanistan that is more prosperous, more secure, [and] independent."
The people of Afghanistan need to see an improvement in government services – they need to see tangible evidence that their government is working for them. They need to see schools, health clinics, agricultural development, access to communication networks, jobs, law enforcement and electricity in their communities – provided by a system that is responsible, efficient and respects the rule of law.
"We see Afghans reclaiming their communities, and we see new partnerships that will help them build their own future and increase their security," said President Obama.
"We are here to help Afghans forge a hard-won peace while realizing the extraordinary potential of the Afghan people, Afghanistan's sons and daughters, from the soldiers and the police to the farmers and the young students," said President Obama. "And we want to build a lasting partnership founded upon mutual interests and mutual respect."