Posted by: Jason Tudor, PAO | 04/11/2009

Deputy ISAF commander: Afghanistan still ‘doable’

By Jason Tudor, GCMC Public Affairs

ISAF deputy commander Lt Gen Dutton

General Dutton speaks with conference attendees following his speech.Photo by Karlheinz Wedhorn

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN – Describing the effort in Afghanistan as “doable,” the deputy commander of coalition military forces there said the coalition’s work is at very different points in different parts of that country during a visit here Oct. 21.

British Lt. Gen. J.B. “Jim” Dutton took the position of deputy commander of the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan in October 2008. He visited here to speak at a conference of senior alumni from both the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the Asian-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

General Dutton said this was an important opportunity to address the ISAF mission with about 30 conference attendees, whose members included alumni from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“It’s good to explain how we function and what we’re trying to achieve to people who may have some potential influence in that situation,” General Dutton explained.

General Dutton offered candid comments about the situation in Afghanistan, saying while the situation is “not good,” there still exists a chance for the 42 nations involved in the process to help move the country forward.

“One of the ideas is that you can’t be everything everywhere all at once,” he said. “We have had a period of eight years to better understand the problem, but it’s a problem that changes.”

The senior alumni conference brings together key audiences from two of the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency’s regional centers to discussing stabilization and reconstruction missions. In speaking to the conference, General Dutton echoed previous comments made in a recent ISAF video “Ask ISAF” where he focused on additional and changing forces as well as the multinational coalition.

“It takes a lot more forces to protect a population than it does to attack an area,” he said. “That’s why there’s a need during a counterinsurgency campaign where the main aim is to protect the people, not to hold ground.”

Meanwhile, commenting on the potential run-off election in Afghanistan, General Dutton said military are already in place from the previous elections.

“The plan will be essentially the same as it was,” he said. “Much of the preparation has already been done.”

General Dutton emphasized the need to train and equip the Afghan National Army, and to have Afghani troops on the ground. However, he said there’s a need to “resource or even oversource with enough troops to get this right” with the current counterinsurgency effort.

“Our plan is to put coalition forces in with as many Afghan security forces as are available into an area and then gradually – as the Afghan security forces become more capable and, more importantly, larger in number – we’re then able to pull the coalition forces back,” he said recently. “That’s some time away, but that is the aspiration.


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