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Milley applauds strides by Afghan army, police as they take mission

Email   Print   Share By Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
September 12, 2013 | News
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Lt. Gen. Mark Milley (Courtesy photo)
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Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general (Photo by Col. Chris Garver, III Corps Public Affairs)
Afghan National Security Forces and police are taking control of the mission in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command commander said during a press briefing Sept. 4.

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, has been spearheading the ISAF operational efforts in Afghanistan since May.

Milley said the fight he sees in Afghanistan today is different than what he saw on his two previous deployments to the country.

“This is a fight in which the forces of Afghanistan, the forces of the government are, in fact, engaged every single day,” the general said.

He said Afghan forces are leading about 90 percent of current operations in Afghanistan with assistance from U.S. and coalition partners.

“They’re planning, they’re coordinating, they’re synchronizing and then they’re executing combat operations every day,” Milley said, noting that Afghan forces are conducting about 1,000 patrols a day and running multiple special operations across the area of operation.

Coalition troops provide assistance in areas where the Afghan forces are still building capabilities, such as intelligence, close air support, and rotary wing assets to augment developing Afghan capabilities, he added, noting that there is a heavy concentration on counter-improvised

explosive device techniques and medical evacuation.

“We do support them. We provide advisers. We train. We advise. We assist,” Milley said.

Improved numbers, organization and capabilities within Afghan forces have affected the capabilities of the enemy as well.

“The enemy that I’ve seen this tour is quantitatively and qualitatively different than the enemy I’ve seen in the previous tours,” Milley said, adding that the enemies’ names have not changed, nor have their methods of intimidation, suicide bombings, assassinations and small-arms attacks.

There are things the enemy cannot do, the general said.

“What they can’t do is build. They can’t provide an alternative form of governance,” Milley said. “They don’t have a political agenda that is acceptable to the vast majority of the people of Afghanistan.”

The enemies’ methods of terror are not sitting well with the people of Afghanistan, he said.

“All the information we have ... clearly indicates the vast majority of people in this country (Afghanistan) reject the agenda or the program that is being offered by the opponents, the enemies of Afghanistan right now in all the various radical groups,” Milley said.

Improved infrastructure and quality-of-life services have helped turn the tide against the enemy.

Milley noted significant growth in the flow of information through radio and TV stations, high-speed communications through the internet and landline telephones and cellphones, and education institutions and opportunities.

“That’s not a good picture for the enemy,” he said. “In this country, with this explosion of information, time is on the hand, on the side of the government of Afghanistan, the people that are supporting a progressive Afghanistan, and not on the side of the Taliban.”

Improved accesses to services and education have helped the people of Afghanistan make positive changes on their own. Expanded education and communication lines have hampered the Taliban’s goal of controlling information, the general said, noting that the literacy rate there has sky-rocketed over the past decade.

The people of Afghanistan are seeing the positive changes around them.

“They’re seeing communications, they’re seeing health care, they’re seeing education,” Milley said. “The bottom line is, across the board in 12 years, the country’s come a long way.”

With all of the advancement in Afghanistan over the past 12 years and with the Afghan forces continuing to take over the mission there, work still remains.

“This war is not over,” Milley said. “This war is still being contested. It is still being fought, day-in and day-out. And it is not yet won.”
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