Top U.S. military commander says Kandahar key to Success in Afghanistan

14:43, June 17, 2010      

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Despite recent deferral of NATO- led military operation to secure Kandahar, the top U.S. military commander said on Wednesday that Kandahar is the key to success in Afghanistan and the U.S. military is working with its Afghan counterparts to turn the tide against the insurgents.

"It is my belief that should they go unchallenged there (in Kandahar) and in the surrounding areas, they will feel equally unchallenged elsewhere," Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee."As goes Kandahar, so goes Afghanistan."

Mullen noted that Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban, and it is from Kandahar that the Taliban attempt to control the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.

However, military operations by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan did not go as smoothly as previously expected. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said recently that major parts of the military operation to secure Kandahar would be pushed back because it was taking longer than expected to win local support.

But Mullen said he is comfortable with the progress that has been achieved in Afghanistan. Afghan and coalition efforts to counter the Taliban in the region have been underway for several months, and the next step in the campaign is to improve security in the region, he noted.

"With Afghans in the lead, we will bolster a police presence at security outposts and checkpoints around the city," Mullen said. "We will establish freedom of movement along the ring road and build a bypass south of Kandahar. And we will better control access to the city itself along its main arteries."

Source: Xinhua


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