Afghan war long and hard
Washington - The United States is making progress in Afghanistan but the war has been "harder and slower than anyone anticipated", CIA chief Leon Panetta said on Sunday.
"We're dealing with a tribal society. We're
dealing with a country that has problems with governance, problems with
corruption, problems with narcotics trafficking, problems with a Taliban
The nearly nine-year-old war has been "a very tough fight. We are making progress. But it's harder and slower than anyone anticipated", he told the ABC network's This Week programme.
Emboldened perhaps by divisions
in the US war effort exposed by the sacking this week of Afghan
commander General Stanley McChrystal, Taliban attacks are on the rise -
a fact Panetta did not attempt to hide.
"I think the Taliban
obviously is engaged in greater violence right now. They're doing more
on IED's (improvised explosive devices). They're going after our troops.
There's no question about that."
Panetta, installed last year as President Barack Obama's Central Intelligence Agency chief, also stressed that "the fundamental key is whether the Afghans accept responsibility" for taking over the battle against the insurgency once foreign troops pull out of the country.
the fundamental key, the key to success or failure is whether the
Afghans accept responsibility, are able to deploy an effective army and
police force to maintain stability.
Panetta said the "fundamental goal" of the US mission
in Afghanistan was to rid the country of Al-Qaeda.
Afghanistan is having a country that is stable enough to ensure that
there is no safe haven for Al-Qaeda or for a militant Taliban that
welcomes Al-Qaeda," he said.
"That's really the measure of success
for the United States. Our purpose, our whole mission there is to make
sure that Al-Qaeda never finds another safe haven from which to attack