Military Official Predicts More Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan

But the Taliban’s attempts to undermine faith in the country’s government aren’t working.

A US army soldier with the 101st Airborne Division Alpha Battery 1-320th prepares to launch a drone outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the village of Jellawar in The Arghandab Valley on September 4, 2010. US military commanders in Afghanistan are developing a strategy that would tolerate limited corruption but target large-scale abuses, The Washington Post reported late September 3, citing unnamed senior defence officials, the newspaper said Pentagon officials had concluded that the Taliban insurgency was the most pressing threat to stability in Afghanistan rather than corruption. The United States has almost 93,000 troops in the country, who along with 48,000 NATO soldiers are battling a Taliban-led insurgency.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
Jan. 23, 2014, 1:39 p.m.

A top mil­it­ary of­fi­cial said Thursday that he ex­pects to see an in­crease in sui­cide bombers in Afgh­anistan.

“I would ex­pect more sui­cide-type, high-pro­file, spec­tac­u­lar at­tacks,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Mil­ley, the com­mand­er of the In­ter­na­tion­al Se­cur­ity As­sist­ance Force Joint Com­mand and serves as the deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al for U.S. forces in Afgh­anistan. ISAF is a NATO group com­prised largely of U.S. forces.

A ex­plo­sion killed at least 16 people in a Ka­bul res­taur­ant earli­er this month. The at­tack comes as Taliban vi­ol­ence in the cap­it­al has de­creased in re­cent months.

And those at­tacks, Mil­ley be­lieves, will likely tar­get Afghan se­cur­ity forces, ci­vil­ians, and ISAF and U.S. troops. Afgh­anistan has al­most 350,000 se­cur­ity forces, which in­cludes po­lice and mil­it­ary of­fi­cials.

But Mil­ley said the at­tacks aren’t un­der­min­ing Afghan sup­port for the coun­try’s mil­it­ary or gov­ern­ment, which he said polling and in­tel­li­gence sug­gest a vast ma­jor­ity of cit­izens sup­port.

The U.S-Afghan re­la­tion­ship has been strained since Afghan Pres­id­ent Ham­id Kar­zai re­fused to sign a bi­lat­er­al se­cur­ity agree­ment with the United States last year. Mil­ley largely sidestepped ques­tions about get­ting a BSA signed, say­ing it would be “in­ap­pro­pri­ate”¦ to put out dead­lines.”

“I would tell you that we have a base plan, and everything that we have planned is built upon an as­sump­tion that an agree­ment will be reached,” Mil­ley ad­ded.

For now, forces will start to ship their fo­cus to help­ing Afghan se­cur­ity forces with func­tion­al — rather than com­bat or tac­tic­al — ad­vising, which he said in­cludes help­ing build the in­sti­tu­tion­al frame­work of the coun­try’s se­cur­ity forces.

“Tac­tics an army does not make,” Mil­ley said, but noted that at the tac­tic­al level NATO and U.S. of­fi­cials are “pretty much sat­is­fied.”

Afghan forces “clearly held their ground” dur­ing the most-re­cent sum­mer fight­ing sea­son, he said, but ad­ded that “we have got to con­tin­ue to build the in­sti­tu­tions to en­sure that this se­cur­ity force can con­tin­ue to stand on their own, and then that se­cur­ity force provides the shield to buy the time and space for the rest of this so­ci­ety to de­vel­op.”

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