French army chief rules out military victory in Afghanistan
AFP – October 8, 2008
The head of the French military General Jean-Louis Georgelin on Wednesday backed comments by a senior British military officer's view that the war in Afghanistan was unwinnable.
A British officer "was saying that one cannot win this war militarily, that there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis and I totally share this feeling," Georglin told French television channel Public Senat.
"The strategy of NATO, as it has been redefined in Bucharest (at the start of April) does not say anything else," he said.
Georgelin's remarks just a few days after comments by British Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith.
Carleton-Smith, the country's top military officer in Afghanistan, told the Sunday Times that people should "lower their expectations" about how the conflict there would end.
"We're not going to win this war. It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army," he told the newspaper.
Carleton-Smith said his forces had "taken the sting out of the Taliban for 2008" but said it would be "unrealistic and probably incredible" to think that the multinational forces in Afghanistan could rid the country of armed bands.
"We may well leave with there still being a low but steady ebb of rural insurgency... I don't think we should expect that when we go there won't be roaming bands of armed men in this part of the world," he said.
Georgelin said that all initiatives "aimed at encouraging reconciliation among Afghans are good and should be encouraged."
Of President Hamid Karzai's readiness to hold talks with the Taliban he said it would be difficult for him to find reliable interlocutors.
On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Carleton-Smith's remarks had been twisted in the media. Success in Afghanistan did not mean "killing every Taliban", but ensuring the Afghan government was in control, he wrote in his official blog.
NATO has almost 51,000 troops in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is trying to spread Karzai's rule and foster reconstruction, but still needs soldiers and helicopters to help suppress the Taliban.
Last updated 13/10/2008