Thursday, January 21, 2010
A delegation of senior Afghan Army officials is in Camp Pendleton this week. They are observing Marine exercises and getting to know their Marine counterparts.
The delegation is from Helmand province, where Marines from Camp Pendleton will be deployed in the spring.
Speaking through a translator, Brigadier General Muhaiuddin Ghori said the Marines are learning the Afghan culture and the Afghan Army is learning from the Americans, but they will need more time to defeat the insurgents. He cited as an example the time it would take to train a fighter pilot.
Ghori said September 11, 2001 was when Americans realized the threat of terrorism, but he said his countrymen have been fighting insurgency for three decades. He said it will take more than a year to build up enough strength to defeat the enemy that is trying to take root in his country.
Lieutenant Colonel Abdulhai Nashat was the only one in the delegation to speak comfortably in English. He said the enemy is integrated into society, and that is the challenge facing counterinsurgency.
“America’s power is not designed to fight the insurgency, which is not visible,” Nashat said. “There is no country to fight. You don’t know who is who, and where they live, and you can’t kill them all, because they are farmers, children, women and elders.”
Nashat’s message was that the only way to win the war will be winning over the population.
Ghori said the next priority after defeating the enemy is educating the Afghan population. He said the Taliban wants the population to remain uneducated so they are more easily manipulated.
The Afghan Army delegation will monitor Marine training exercises at Camp Pendleton and Twenty Nine Palms before returning to Afghanistan.