By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – The United States is employing a three-part strategy to transition responsibility to Afghan authorities, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said here today.
President Barack Obama announced his plan last night to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops by the end of this year, and a total of 33,000 by September 2012. Clinton said she concurred with the president’s decision during her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“All three surges -- military, civilian and diplomatic -- are part of the vision for transition that NATO endorsed in Lisbon last December and that President Obama reaffirmed last night,” she said. “As he said, ‘Afghans must take responsibility for their own future.’”
Clinton discussed the progress occurring on the ground in Afghanistan, setting conditions for the transition of responsibility to the Afghan government.
“Since January 2009, we have tripled the number of diplomats, development experts and other civilian specialists on the ground in Afghanistan,” she said, “and we have expanded our presence out in the field nearly six-fold.
”These new civilians have changed the way we do business,” she added, “focusing on key ministries [and] sectors, and holding ourselves and our partners to higher standards.”
Clinton stressed the necessity of implementing all three surges together for the strategy to succeed.
“The three surges work hand in hand,” she said. “You cannot cut or limit one and expect the others to succeed. Ultimately, I believe we are saving money and more importantly, lives, by investing now.”
Stressing diplomacy as a key factor in building support for a political solution in Afghanistan, Clinton referenced a recent vote by the U.N. Security Council regarding sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
“Just this past Friday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to support reconciliation by splitting its sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban into two separate lists, underscoring that the door is open for the insurgents to abandon the terrorists and choose a different path,” she said. “We welcome these steps.”
Shifting focus, Clinton discussed clear expectations for the United States’ relationship with Pakistan.
“As President Obama said last night, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who kill Americans,” she said.
“We are looking at Pakistan to take concrete actions on the goals we share -- defeating violent extremism, which has also taken so many innocent Pakistani lives; ending the conflict in Afghanistan; and securing a stable, democratic, prosperous future,” Clinton said.