By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2012 – Stories focusing on attacks by the Afghan army and police against members of the U.S.-led coalition miss the larger point that Afghan forces are building the basis for a peaceful and stable country, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force wrote in an op-ed article.
In an opinion piece published in yesterday’s Washington Post, Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen wrote that the coalition is prevailing and can achieve its goals in Afghanistan – to defeat al-Qaida and stop the country from again being a terrorist haven. But he said this depends on the country being able to stand on its own.
And that is happening, he said. “Most Americans do not get to see Afghans’ commitment to their country or the improving security that has emerged from our fight together. But I do,” the general wrote. “And I am confident that, with the international community’s commitment, we can consolidate our gains and build a durable peace in a part of the world vital to U.S. national security.”
Coalition forces have made tremendous sacrifices to reach this point, Allen noted. More than 2,000 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban in October 2001. They continue to make sacrifices, he added, and these “tremendous sacrifices are creating security conditions that, finally, are bringing a real sense of confidence to the Afghan people.”
Coalition forces will not allow insider attacks to derail the progress being made, Allen said.
“Afghan and international leaders at all levels are devoting unprecedented time and effort to reduce this threat,” Allen wrote. “We have implemented measures to better protect our troops; we have helped build an Afghan force of close to 350,000; and Afghans are leading security operations in three-quarters of the country. This momentum is irreversible.”
But the story is not the attacks, Allen said, but the cooperation that’s taking place between Afghan and coalition forces as they work together closely throughout the country. Afghan leaders learn from coalition forces, he said, and coalition forces provide essential services such as logistics, aviation support, maintenance and intelligence for Afghan forces.
And attention to the insider attacks ignores what insurgents are doing to the Afghan people, Allen wrote, citing hypocrisy on the part of the Taliban’s spiritual leader.
“The focus on ‘green-on-blue’ attacks obscures the callous slaughter of Afghan civilians by insurgents led by Mohammad Omar,” Allen said. “He has the blood of innocents on his hands, even though he hypocritically tells his subordinates not to attack civilians. Either he is out of touch, or his forces are out of control. Perhaps that should be no surprise. Omar lives in Pakistan, as do many of his ‘commanders.’”
From his safe vantage point across the border, Omar has sent hundreds of young, impressionable, largely spiritual and helpless youths to their deaths and detention in Afghanistan, Allen said. “For this, they must forfeit their honor and any claim to Islamic virtue,” he added. “And they are losing. ‘Green’ and ‘blue’ have been taking the fight to the ‘red’ enemy, the Taliban, and the enemy is fighting back from a position of weakness.”
The Taliban have largely been evicted from cities and villages and they have lost the support of the Afghan people, Allen noted. “Omar is losing financial support from donors, who are sending their money elsewhere, and from reduced drug profits, thanks to Afghan and coalition efforts to stamp out the poppy harvest,” he said. “Finally, Afghan security forces are increasing in number and quality every day.”
Afghan officials announced today that Taliban insurgents cut the throats of 17 civilians — including two women — in a rural, Taliban-controlled district of Helmand province yesterday, even as Allen referenced previous atrocities in his article.
“With each atrocity, assassination and depredation inflicted on innocent Afghans, the insurgents further distance themselves from the Afghan people and their faith, for there is a distinctive Islamic prohibition against murdering innocent civilians or benefiting from the scourge of drugs and abject criminality,” Allen wrote.
And this means another color combination – white on red -- is emerging in Afghanistan, Allen wrote. White traditionally signifies civilians in military parlance.
“The Afghan population is organizing to drive the hated Taliban from their villages,” he wrote. “This movement is emerging in areas where the heavy hand of the Taliban has created a popular groundswell against the insurgents.”
This anti-Taliban movement raises hopes for the international coalition, Allen said.
“This struggle is far from over, but the solution will be found in our growing strength and will not be defined by incidents of ‘green-on-blue’ violence,” he wrote. “Our cause is right, our determination is clear and our sacrifices have not been in vain. We are, in fact, prevailing.”