Thursday, September 27, 2007

Afghanistan news we don't get in US....

From BBC News:

Taleban 'could re-take territory'
Territory in Afghanistan captured in hard-fought battles by British troops may be re-taken by the Taleban, the Nato commander has warned.

Gen Dan McNeill said the alliance had made some important military gains over the past six months in Helmand.

But he expressed concern that Afghan security forces would not be able to hold on to the territory as the Taleban regroup over winter.

About 25 British troops have been killed there in the past six months.

Tactics in Helmand province, in the south of Afghanistan, over the past six months have been to push the Taleban out of the lush river valleys where the insurgents have had a stronghold.

The tactics have meant close-quarters fighting for British troops.

Exit strategy

Gen McNeill, in an interview with BBC correspondent Alastair Leithhead, said this had been a successful military strategy but that he was concerned the job of holding the ground would not be done effectively by Afghan national security forces.

He said some of the ground taken may have to be taken all over again next year if the Taleban regroup over the winter as he fears they will.

"I think there is some chance of that because the Afghan national security forces have not been as successful in holding as we would like them to be," he said.

"We are likely to have to do some of this work again.

"It would nice if the Afghan national security force could hold it, then there's less of a chance we'll have to do it again."

Training the Afghan army and police to a level where they can maintain Afghanistan security is the exit strategy for foreign forces.

Gen McNeill said the mission was on track and he was pleased with the military progress and ongoing reconstruction projects.

However, he said the third key pillar - improving governance - was not going well and more work would have to be done.


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