By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2011 – Coalition forces in southern Afghanistan have made progress while curbing enemy momentum, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force’s Regional Command South said today.
“It's my assessment that a lot has changed during our 10 months out there on the ground and that we have made progress,” Army Maj. Gen. James L. Terry told Pentagon reporters in a video teleconference.
“Most notable is that insurgent momentum has been put in check and we are increasing security in key districts,” he said, adding that the command has expanded its efforts to reduce insurgent capability and building Afghanistan’s security forces toward leading security efforts in the region.
Terry said Afghan leadership throughout Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul and Day Kundi provinces are stepping up to improve conditions in their areas. “Our civilian counterparts, both in the Afghan government and the international community, work with us in extending governance and development as security expands,” he added.
As Afghan and coalition forces carry out security operations, their efforts continue to pay dividends, the general told reporters.
“Afghan security forces and ISAF have worked together to remove nearly 1,400 caches of weapons, 110 tons of homemade explosives, and removed over 300 high-value individuals since the beginning of November,” he said. “The net result is not only removing lethal material and leadership from the battlefield, but also greatly impacting the insurgents' ability to acquire replacement material.”
Other successes, Terry said, are taking place as Afghans increasingly take responsibility for security in their villages.
“There are currently 30 village stability operations, Afghan local police sites, in Regional Command South, within 17 validated districts,” he said. “That's about 2,200 Afghan local policemen supporting communities and denying Taliban access back into their villages.”
But Terry cautioned that while much has changed in the region, the insurgents will not simply quit.
“As I've said many times, insurgents will not give up easily,” he said. “And as we predicted, they are shifting tactics towards intimidation of the population and government officials.
“They're doing this through physical harm, murder, in some cases, and complex attacks,” he continued. “These complex attacks are being countered by our Afghan national security force partners. … The result has been tactical and moral defeat for the insurgents.”
Terry noted the resolve of his Afghan partners despite the insurgency’s efforts, praising the resilience of security and governance institutions in the face of adversity.
“Undoubtedly, the look and feel of the international community presence in Regional Command South will change as Afghans move into the lead,” he said. “It has to.”
Terry said in his remaining months in the region, Afghan and coalition forces would continue their partnership, maintain the development of inclusive local governments, increase Afghan capacity and work with the region’s civilian leadership.
Coalition forces will continue to facilitate the transition of Afghans to the forefront of security efforts.
“We will maintain our efforts with training, partnering and mentoring the Afghan security forces, including the Afghan local police,” Terry said. “[We will] move them increasingly toward leading and directing roles, securing their people and relentlessly pursuing criminals and armed opposition.”
Terry, who was recently nominated by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta for appointment to lieutenant general and assignment as commander of 5th Corps, U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army, expressed his gratitude to the diverse group of service members serving under his command.
“I'd like to personally thank all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and civilians who have served and sacrificed in Regional Command South over the last year,” he said. “Regardless of the nationality, their efforts have been truly tremendous.”