ISAF Needs to Maintain Momentum in Afghanistan, General Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2011 - NATO's International Security Assistance Force has a "realistic chance" to meet its goals in Afghanistan if member nations maintain current efforts there, an ISAF leader said today.

"We have achieved quite something; however, challenges are still out there," Maj. Gen. Richard Rossmanith of the German army, ISAF's deputy chief of staff for stability, said during a Pentagon news briefing from the Afghan capital of Kabul.

"We need to continue our common effort [in Afghanistan]," he said.

"We need to stay together," Rossmanith continued. "We need to maintain the momentum. There is a realistic chance to get the job done in the right way, and we have a chance to actually achieve our objectives in this mission."

Rossmanith oversees more than a hundred military and civilian members representing about 50 ISAF member nations, working to develop governance and a sustainable economy in Afghanistan. Those member nations "have a vested interest in nearly all areas" of Afghanistan's government and economic prospects, he said.

The stability group oversees efforts to improve rule of law, land management, revenue generation, civilian aviation, roads, bridges, schools, training civil servants, and other initiatives, Rossmanith said.

"We still have a huge amount of challenges," he said, "but we are on a good way toward irreversible achievements."

Those challenges, Rossmanith said, include border security with Pakistan and insurgent safe havens there, and the insurgency within Afghanistan. "We must be realistic," he said, "these borders, with respect to the terrain, may never be fully controllable. We will need to do a lot in the country" to bolster Afghanistan's border security.

Revenue generation also remains an issue, the general said. Still, there has been measurable progress in building Afghanistan's infrastructure and governance, he said. Among other things, the national government is considering establishing a roads authority to sustain that progress.

Government stability in Afghanistan needs improvement, Rossmanith said. "At the end of the day, the situation there still is soft," he acknowledged.

What will strengthen it, he said, is to continue with the current strategy to build up Afghan security forces enough in the next 12 to 15 months so that the Afghans can take more responsibility for their security, governance and economic future.

Foreign investment in Afghanistan has helped, Rossmanith said.

"Indeed, a huge amount of money has been spent in Afghanistan, and we see the positive effects of that, particularly in the past one to two years," he said. "This supports our comprehensive [counterinsurgency] efforts and we see the positive effects of all that was spent by the United States and all the other nations."

The general declined to comment on the death of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of President Hamid Karzai and a major power broker in southern Afghanistan, who was assassinated yesterday, saying only that it was too early to draw conclusions and that ISAF will support the government investigation.

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