American Forces Press Service
Sept. 18, 2008 - Partnership among coalition, NATO and Afghan forces is a must in providing the security necessary for Afghanistan to move forward, a senior coalition officer said here today. Army Brig. Gen. James C. McConville, deputy commander of support for Combined Joint Task Force 101, gave Afghan media and a host of international journalists an overview of the security situation in Regional Command East and a glimpse at the concept for going forward in the coming months.
"If you had asked me, 'What do you think of Afghanistan?' after being here almost six months, I would say I see a country with a lot of unrealized potential," the general said.
McConville stressed the necessity of partnership to ensure security, and the need for improvements in quality of life for Afghan citizens as factors that can make the difference between success and failure.
"We're taking a different approach," McConville explained. "We're trying to defeat the enemy by helping the people." He acknowledged that, by nature, it is a long-term plan of action. Provincial reconstruction teams have been playing a key role, he said.
"The PRTs are not here to replace the government; they're here to help the government," McConville said. But even as the PRTs help local and provincial governments find their feet, he said, a key component in the measurement of quality of life is the level of security enjoyed by the citizens.
"It's not just additional U.S. forces," McConville said. "It's also additional Afghan Army units and additional Afghan National Police."
Enlisting the help of local communities and allowing the people to take ownership of their own security has been cited as a major factor contributing to coalition success in other areas, notably in Iraq's Anbar province, he noted. It is essential that interaction with the population breeds partnership rather than animosity, the general said, adding that future success depends on it.
"We're not at war with the Afghan people," McConville said.
(From a Combined Joint Task Force 101 news release.)