The United States' NATO
allies have expressed strong support for the mission going forward in
Afghanistan. "President [Barack] Obama's decision," said NATO
Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, "to substantially increase the
numbers of U.S. forces in the NATO-led operation is proof of his resolve; the
overall approach he laid out is a broader political strategy for success. The
United States' contribution to the NATO-led mission has always been
substantial; it is now even more important."
"But this is not a US mission alone," said Mr. Rasmussen. At least twenty-five countries have announced that they will send more forces to join the thirty-thousand U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan in 2010. U.S. allies have offered around seven-thousand new forces, and "we're still counting," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "This is a crucial test for NATO," she said, "which has been the greatest and most successful military alliance in history. . . .And it is crucial that we remain firm in our resolve and see this mission through," said Secretary Clinton. "We will work together to deny al-Qaida a safe haven, reverse the Taliban's momentum, and deny it the ability to overthrow the Afghan government, and strengthen the capacity of the Afghans to take responsibility for their own security."
Accomplishing these objectives in Afghanistan, will require the work of the military combined with a long-term civilian assistance program. The goal is to deliver high-impact economic aid to bolster Afghanistan's agricultural sector, the traditional core of the Afghan economy. This will create jobs, reduce the funding the Taliban receives from poppy cultivation, and help draw insurgents off the battlefield.
The new strategy also addresses the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban has taken root. The U.S. will strengthen Pakistan's capacity to target extremist groups that threaten both the U.S. and Pakistan.
Ultimately, said Secretary Clinton, only the Afghan people can decide what kind of nation they want to build for themselves and their children. Only the Pakistani people can ensure their country's democratic future. "That is why we are working as partners in both countries," said Secretary Clinton, "supporting Afghans as they build institutions, solidify the rule of law, and enhance their capacity to provide their own security; and supporting the Pakistanis as they defend their democracy and develop their economy."