WASHINGTON, Feb 2: Preventing Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist sanctuary still needs to be the mission of the United States, a former American spymaster has told lawmakers.
“The mission it is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a sanctuary for transnational extremists the way it was when Al-Qaeda had bases there under the Taliban rule in which the 9/11 attacks were planned and where the initial training of the attackers was conducted,” former CIA Director Gen (rtd) David Petraeus told lawmakers.
“The only way that you can accomplish that mission, without us doing it ourselves, is to enable the Afghans to secure themselves and to govern themselves to a good enough fashion,” Petraeus said in response to a question at the House Armed Services Committee.
Sharing lawmakers’ concerns about troop caps and time phased force draw downs, Petraeus called for re-examination of the caps and of the effects that they have on units.
“If a commander is given only a certain number of forces, he’s going to fill that number with those who can do what only those in uniform can do, which is to go outside the wire and help partners engage with the population and occasionally, in this case, engage with the enemy because we’re now much more enablers than we are front line fighters,” he said.
Sustained commitment, he asserted, would reassure the Afghans.
“Still put the pressure on them to make the changes to get this pernicious corruption out of some of the really critical areas that they’re in, which are causing such problems,” he said. (PTI)