War on Terrorism

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stavridis to Urge More Allied Contribution in Afghanistan

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 30, 2009 - The new commander of U.S. European Command told reporters today he's "very interested in finding additional and alternative ways for allies to contribute" to coalition efforts in Afghanistan. Navy Adm. James Stavridis said shortly after change-of-command ceremonies at Eucom's Patch Barracks here that he'll explore additional ways of broadening the coalition in Afghanistan.

Stavridis will be put on a second hat as supreme allied commander in Europe, to replace the retiring Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock as commander of NATO forces, including the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, during July 2 ceremonies.

A big emphasis, Stavridis told reporters today, will be putting an Afghan face on the operations there.

"We need to pursue policies in Afghanistan that put the defense and the security of the Afghan people at the center of our efforts -- all of our efforts, our allied efforts, our U.S. efforts, and so forth, because that is the key to dealing with an insurgency," he said.

Success will be measured by concrete progress that improves the lives of the Afghan people, he said, reducing the extremists' appeal.

"The metrics are not body counts," Stavridis said. "The metrics are everything from road building to agricultural improvements to improvements on counternarcotics to schools. All of those are the metrics that are most important here."

NATO faces new challenges and new stresses and strains that will, as in the past, test its credibility and resolve, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates noted during today's ceremonies.

"Our nations are again engaged in a war whose outcome and duration is uncertain," Gates said. "But I am confident that we will summon the will and the courage to do what we must in Afghanistan."

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