Washington: Afghan forces would not be
ready to take over the security from US-led NATO troops in key
southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar for at least a "few
years", the head of the US Marine Corps said on Tuesday.
Terming Helmand and Kandahar as "birthplaces of
Taliban", Marine Corps Commander Gen James Conway said some
Afghan security units may be able to take over from US forces
in other parts of the country 2011.
"I honestly think it will be a few years before
conditions on the ground are such that turnover will be
possible for us," he told reporters at the Pentagon here.
The US plans to pull out its troops from Afghanistan
in phases beginning next year.
"I think it will be a few years before conditions on
the ground are such that we would expect to be able to turn
over to Afghan forces. I think there`s a mindset that needs to
accompany that on the part of our Marines...," he said.
He said he believes "some American unit somewhere in
Afghanistan will turn over responsibilities to Afghan security
forces in 2011".
Conway became one of the top commanders of the country
to acknowledge that the US is increasingly becoming tired of
the war in Afghanistan.
"I sense our country is increasingly growing tired of
the war, but I would remind that the last of the 30,000 troops
only arrived this month. I would also quote the analysis of
one of my regimental commanders when asked about the pace of
the war. He said we can either lose fast or win slow," he
He said the military leadership have to do a better
job of talking about the last chapter of this book, if it
simply tries to walk away.
"I don`t think that we have done a strong enough job
in convincing the American people there are good and just
reasons why we have to destroy the al Qaeda and the associated
Taliban in Afghanistan, similar to what we did in Iraq,
certainly to the point where there is no future opportunity
for save haven, certainly to the degree that we can create
conditions for that Afghan government to rule the country and
avoid safe haven," he said.
"I think there`s a mindset that needs to accompany
that on the part of our Marines, that it may be a while,"
The Marine Corps commander said that significant
elements of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda leadership are out of the
country, not susceptible to the day-to-day contact, not
susceptible to the Special Forces that focus on such things.
"They are avoiding that type of jeopardy is noted by
their foot soldiers. So we think that there`s a seam there
that we probably can exploit, okay? That`s the essence of it,"