June 25 - The beginning of the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan does not signal end to counterinsurgency, NATO general says. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
The drawdown begins. On Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the US would pull 10,000 forces from Afghanistan this year -- the first step toward ending the long, costly war. 23,000 more forces will leave by the end of next summer On the ground it may mean fine tuning plans rather than any overhaul. Brigadier General Josef Blotz in Kabul was made available to Reuters by the Pentagon. SOUNDBITE: Brigadier General Josef Blotz, saying (English): "Well, let me say we have still got 15 more months with all these surge forces, being gradually drawn down, but yes, we do have flexibility, we do have more forces than before 2010, and now it is about coming up with a very prudent implementation planning." The debate over the Afghan shifted palpably after U.S. special forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last month. There was more talk focussing on counterterrorism in Afghanistan. rather than tithe counterinsurgency, or COIN strategy used in Afghanistan. Not so say Blotz. SOUNDBITE: Brigadier General Josef Blotz, saying (English): "It will certainly not be the end of the counterinsurgency approach. As I said strategy and approach reman valid and unchanged, completely. Counterterrorism is not a concept completely different from counterinsurgency. Coounterterrorism activities are part of the the overall counterinsurgency strategy.The COIN strategy comprises things like diplomacy and political reconciliation , strategic communication, the application of more traditional military instruments, and also counter terrorism, carried out by special forces. " Conditions in Afghanistan remain volatile. As the battle for control of the country continues, scores of people were added to the civilian death tolls Saturday in an attack on a hospital in in Eastern Afghanistan. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters