By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Dec. 2, 2009 - President Barack Obama's decision to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan signifies a dramatic turning point for the U.S. and coalition mission there, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal told his staff in Kabul today. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, cited British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's November 1942 speech following the allied forces' victory over Axis troops at the Second Battle of El Alamein.
"I think we are at an inflection point" in Afghanistan, McChrystal said. Paraphrasing Churchill, he added: "I don't think this is the end. I don't even think it's the beginning of the end. But I do believe it's the end of the beginning."
U.S. and coalition forces, McChrystal said, are providing the Afghan government and its citizens the "time, space, and capability to defend their sovereignty." America's allies and enemies, he said, will watch avidly as the U.S. surge of forces into Afghanistan gets under way. And, as the surge builds, McChrystal vowed to confront Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents "with even greater vigor."
Yet, U.S. and coalition assistance in the training and development of more Afghan soldiers and police "is the most important thing we do in the future" in Afghanistan, McChrystal said. To achieve true victory over the insurgents, he said, Afghanistan must eventually be defended by the Afghans themselves.
Meanwhile, "a tremendous amount of things are going to happen, and they are good things that are going to happen" in Afghanistan, McChrystal said.
In a statement released today, McChrystal acknowledged that many challenges confront U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. However, "neither the Afghan people nor the international community want Afghanistan to remain a sanctuary for terror and violence," he said in the statement.
"The coalition is encouraged by President Obama's commitment, and we remain resolute to empowering the Afghan people to reject the insurgency and build their own future," McChrystal stated.