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Jim Garamone - American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2009 - The Afghanistan-Pakistan interagency policy review stresses the need for the United States to step up the counter-insurgency fight, a Defense Department official said today.
"What we're doing is stepping up to more fully resource a counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan that is designed to first reverse Taliban gains and secure the population, particularly in the most contested areas of the south and east," said Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy.
Bruce Riedel chaired the policy review with co-chairs Flournoy and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The three officials briefed reporters today on the new strategy at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building here.
Along with counter-insurgency efforts, the strategy also focuses on providing the Afghan national security forces the training and mentoring needed to expand and take over the security mission.
Finally, the mission will provide a secure environment that will enable governance and development efforts to take root and grow, Flournoy said.
Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama introduced the Afghan-Pakistan strategy. He put forth a clear and concise goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida, and to ensure that safe havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot threaten the United States. The president said the extremist groups are using the border areas between the two countries to plan new attacks against the United States and its allies.
The president said that if the United States has actionable intelligence about senior al-Qaida targets, it will take appropriate action, Riedel said.
The strategy fuses efforts on both sides of the Durand Line -- Afghanistan's 1,600-mile border with Pakistan. "The combination of aggressive military operations on the Afghan side, and working energetically with the Pakistan government to shut down the safe havens creates the synergy, which we hope will lead to their destruction," Riedel said.
The United States has an array of programs planned in Pakistan to improve the economy and governance in the ungoverned areas along the border. The U.S. military also will work to train the Pakistani military and Frontier Corps.
"On the Afghanistan side, the president has resourced fully the requirements of the mission -- not just on the military side, but I want to emphasize on the civilian side, as well," Riedel said. "Now, for the first time, we are providing the kind of civilian support that this mission has always needed."
This support will include the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Treasury and Commerce personnel, and lawyers.
The president's review builds on three other reviews conducted at the National Security Council, the Joint Staff and U.S. Central Command. "Next week, of course, the president will discuss this at the NATO summit in Strasbourg and also at the [European Union] summit in Prague," Riedel said.