In his Washington Post column, Michael Gerson, writing from Helmand Province, gives his assessment of the Afghanistan war. According to Gerson: “The Afghan surge — involving about 40,000 additional coalition forces and more than 70,000 new recruits to the Afghan army and police — has made swift progress. And these advances are accumulating into a strategy. Coalition forces are moving north up the Helmand River valley, connecting their gains to Kandahar next door, hoping to expand the security bubble toward Kabul.”
“For the first time since the [earliest stage] of the Afghan war,” Secretary Gates told Gerson, we have “the resources, both civilian and military, and the strategy in place … to actually put us on the path to success, rather than sort of holding our own.” The mission, in his view, has been refocused on achievable goals: “Deny the Taliban control of populated areas. Degrade their capabilities. And expand Afghan national security forces to the point where they can handle a degraded Taliban threat.” And when asked how this fighting season differs from that past 10, Gates said, “When [the Taliban forces] come back this spring, it’s no longer their home-court advantage. We hold the home-court advantage now.”
On the same subject, Afghanistan, Jack Keane (along with several others) was interviewed by Charlie Rose earlier this week. General Keane, who just returned from Afghanistan, where he did an assessment, was asked for his views. General Keane said he’s seen a “dramatic turnaround in the momentum in security,” particularly in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces. According to Keane, areas the Taliban used to control are now controlled by us. We’ve taken out the Taliban’s logistical infrastructure, and the Afghanistan people are aligning with us. Hence we’ve seen a “major momentum shift in our favor.”
This doesn’t mean the war is won, by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly problems (like corruption) with the Karzai government remain. But progress is being made, even as much of the country, and even some within the conservative movement, grow tired of this war. Thankfully, those in charge of actually waging the war have not grown weary in doing good.