Oz Army Chief says Afghan war “hasn''t been won by a long shot”

kandhar, AfghanistanKandahar (Afghanistan), Sept 15: Australian Army Chief Lt-Gen Ken Gillespie has reportedly said that the US-led war-on-terror in Afghanistan will go on for long, and that only a sophisticated counter-insurgency campaign can win it.

He said that the Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, where around 750-strong Aussie troops are deployed, has not been won over the years, though there has been an impressive progress.

“Closer in the main population areas I think there is more consent to the sort of operations that we are doing. But Oruzgan hasn''t been won by a long shot, and there is still much work to be done,” The Australian quoted Gillespie as saying.

Gen Gillespie said he was confident the NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan now had a “much clearer understanding” of the kind of counter-insurgency fight that had to be undertaken across the nation, said the paper.

“We (the coalition) have a clear understanding of the need for a sophisticated counter-insurgency campaign, and I see people working doggedly towards creating that campaign. If it is set in place and if people are prepared to take the time, and those sorts of operations can be done, I think Afghanistan can be won,” General Gillespie said.

The General spent three days in Tarin Kowt last week visiting Australian defence personnel, including some of the nine Australian special forces soldiers who were injured in a clash with Taliban fighters two weeks ago. He also held discussions with senior NATO commanders in Kabul and Kandahar, as well as meeting Australian personnel based in Kandahar.

According to the report, in Oruzgan, where Australian, US and Dutch forces are based, Gen Gillespie said there had been a genuine progress over the past year. “We have seen the ISAF (International Security Force in Afghanistan) security forces spread out more in the Oruzgan area, and there''s been certainly a whole lot more development taking place in that time,” added the Aussie Army Chief.

Australia’s military planners have drawn up a four-year campaign for Oruzgan out to 2012, with the expectation that US forces will move into the province to fill any gap left by the planned Dutch troop drawdown in 2010.

From next month, the Australian deployment to Tarin Kowt will consist of a mentoring and reconstruction taskforce as well as a separate special operations task group. (ANI)