March 30 - Joint ISAF/Afghan operations continue as NATO tries to rebuild trust after series of setbacks. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
A war under stress. At least 16 NATO soldiers In Afghanistan have been killed in a wave of so-called rogue attacks since January. The attacks come amid increased tension between Afghanistan and it partners from the international Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson in Kabul was made available to Reuters by the Pentagon. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON, SAYING: "We have seen the mishandling of religious material in February, on the 20th of February/. We have seen a number of incidents in which Afghan security forces, or personnel in uniform of Afghan security forces against coalition soldiers. We have seen the tragic event on the 11th of March where 17 innocent Afghan civilians were shot in Kandahar and five Afghans were wounded in the same incident. All these incidents obviously causing stress on relations, to Afghan authorities and the population." Jacobson says the challenge ahead is to rebuild trust. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON, SAYING: "Trust being the big word, this is the challenge at the moment, to rebuild confidence and trust between Afghan authorities the Afghan population and the international coalition." On the ground in Southern Afghanistan, near the site of the Kandahar shootings, Afghan and NATO forces continue joint operations. This will be key ahead of the summer fighting season, which is expected to begin with the poppy harvest. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON, SAYING: "After that, we will see again, the attempt to do disturbing attacks, to do attacks on convoys on lone outposts, these are the sorts of things we will have to expect." The Obama administration says its focus on Afghanistan and its decision to beef up U.S. forces have driven the Taliban out of much of its southern heartland. Yet the recent calamities underscore the remaining challenges as the West tries to end a conflict that has dragged on for more than a decade without a decisive victory over the Taliban. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.