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'IT'S GOING TO BE A HOT SUMMER': Ambassador addresses violence
Keith Rogers
Las Vegas Review Journal

On a visit Monday to Las Vegas, Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States said the recent surge of Taliban violence in his homeland is a temporary effort to defeat the will of U.S. and NATO forces.

In the end, the Taliban's tactics of fear and intimidation in remote areas of Afghanistan will lose out to what Ambassador Said T. Jawad said he hopes will be a bigger and better police force that will keep foreign fighters out once they've been defeated by the U.S.-led effort.

The object, Jawad said, is to keep peace in these areas so that construction of schools and clinics can take hold.

"What you're seeing is an increased role of NATO. Their number of soldiers will increase from 9,000 to something like 21,000," he said after speaking to the Las Vegas World Affairs Council at the Four Seasons. The luncheon at Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse was attended by Nellis airmen who had returned from duty in Afghanistan earlier this year.

"The terrorists are trying to test the commitment and capability of NATO forces. I think this is going to be a temporary surge of violence," he said.
Coalition forces this month mounted their biggest offensive since the Taliban fell five years ago during the U.S. invasion to hunt down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Operation Mountain Thrust, as it is called, focuses on five rural provinces in southern Afghanistan.

"We will be seeing more terrorist activities in the few months coming up in Afghanistan. It's going to be a hot summer in the country," he said, referring to "a massive military operation."

"It's important to clear it and hold it and then work together to build it and not allow terrorists to come back," he said.

In less than a week, seven U.S. soldiers have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan with the latest casualty announced Monday by the Pentagon, Master Sgt. Thomas D. Maholic, of Bradford, Pa., who was killed Saturday in Ghecko when his patrol was attacked with small arms fire during a mission.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, eight U.S. military personnel with ties to Nevada have died in the war effort in Afghanistan out of 39 overseas casualties from the state in the nation's global war on terrorism.

The last Nevadan killed in Afghanistan was 33-year-old Army Sgt. John C. Griffith of Las Vegas. He died May 5 with nine of his comrades when a CH-47 Chinook helicopter tumbled down a mountainside and exploded in the rugged Kunar Province.

Before that, on April 21, Army National Guard Capt. Clayton L. Adamkavicius, formerly of Las Vegas, was mortally wounded while helping train Afghan soldiers at the site of a weapons cache found near Dihrawud in Uruzghan Province.

Jawad acknowledged that remotely piloted Predator spy planes, sometimes operated via satellite link from Nellis and Creech Air Force bases in Nevada, have played a vital role in monitoring Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. Often, Predators work in concert with U.S. and NATO aircraft to snuff Taliban attacks on coalition troops using Hellfire missiles.

He said his government is asking Pakistan to do more to prevent terrorists from infiltrating the border with Afghanistan.

Jawad noted that many hot spots for violence overlap the farming lands where poppies are grown to support narcotics traffic. Last year, he said, the Afghan government destroyed 143 metric tons of opium and 35 tons of heroin.
"One of the things narcotics does to a country is destroy it, destroy the morals and the ethics," Jawad said.

Foreign fighters, he said, have infiltrated those areas in the last six months to wage an Iraq-style war using suicide bombers and sophisticated explosive devices.

"They are killing soft targets: teachers and road builders," he said.
A key to victory is to establish a reliable police force but the problem is that the force is understaffed and police are underpaid.

"It's hard to fight terrorism and go out against al-Qaida if you're only paid $40" a month, Jawad said.

He said another problem is the psychological effect of citizens watching police get shot at point blank by terrorists because the rifles police are using often jam.

"It is a matter of resources, training and equipment and also, of course, leadership," he said.

The police training effort that was started by the Germans is now totally in the hands of U.S. personnel, he said.

For 2007, he said the United States has allocated $1.4 billion for training of the Afghan national army and the national police force.

"We are building new training centers in five provinces. We are also filling what are called 'embedded trainers' with police officers. So once they are trained then the U.S. trainer will stay with them when they are deployed to make sure they perform properly," he said.

"What we need to do is just find a solution for the short-term crisis we have right now," Jawad said after his speech.

Regardless of the security challenges, he said he believes Afghanistan is "on the right track."

"Despite the fact Afghanistan is a poor country ... the country is emerging as a model of successful state building," he said.

"If democracy means having an opportunity to send your daughter to school, if democracy means having the possibility of speaking your mind freely without having the fear of the secret police or prison or jail, or if democracy means having the opportunity to grow to your economic potential," he said, "this is something every human being demands and deserves."

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