WASHINGTON -The deputy commander of US Forces in Afghanistan Lt-Gen James L Terry has said the United States does not believe that Pakistan and Afghanistan will go to war over cross-border attacks.
Terry said the United States maintained good relations with both the countries and was working with them to curb border attacks.
James Terry spoke with Pentagon reporters via satellite from Kabul. The general offered an assessment of Afghan forces, Isaf’s future role, challenges involving the Pakistan border and the Haqqani network, the insurgency and this summer’s drawdown.
“I understand the importance of this mission, and over time my understanding of Afghanistan has grown, as has my appreciation for the people of this country,” Terry said.
Responding to reporters’ questions, Terry said the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and cooperation between the two countries, remained a key factor in long-term security.
“What I would offer is that we’ll continue to make military-to-military contact,” he said. “I think that is going to provide a mechanism that potentially will be calming over time and reduce some of the tension that’s up on the border.”
The Haqqani network based in Pakistan was very lethal, but had recently succeeded in mounting fewer attacks in the Kabul area, Terry said.
“We have arrayed our forces so that we can counter that threat, and at the same time [have] arrayed the Afghan national security forces … in depth from the border back. It appears to be pretty effective,” he added.
Insurgents, including the Taliban, remained threatening and deadly, but were trying hard to stay relevant, the general said.
“The insurgents’ position with the people of Afghanistan — these are the very people the insurgents seek to control — is continually eroding,” he said.
Insurgents were killing and maiming Afghan people at an alarming rate, he said, adding that their intimidation and assassination campaign was working against them.” he added
“Their leadership is under constant pressure, and their resources are strained.”
Isaf’s resolve and commitment remained strong leading up to 2014 and the decade beyond, Terry said, and he acknowledged the coalition would retain some combat role.
“We will fight alongside them,” he said. “[Security transition] does not mean that there will be no challenges along the road ahead. It does mean that we have momentum. And while our role and our methods are changing, our commitment will endure.”
Most Afghans are tired of war and tired of “the heavy-handed approach of the insurgency, an insurgency that attempts to control the people of Afghanistan by limiting their education, controlling their freedom of movement and intimidating them,” he said.
Terry said the surge of US forces, which began in 2010 and saw an additional 30,000-plus troops deploy to Afghanistan, was on track to end by late September, when the US troop levels would return to the previous level of 68,000.
“The surge has served to break the momentum of the insurgency and has provided the time and space for our Afghan partners to develop,” the general said.