Year Later, U.S. Says Afghan War Not Over
Mon Oct 7,10:08 AM ET
By Ahmad Sear
(Reuters) - A year after the start of U.S. air
strikes in Afghanistan, the United States said
Monday the war in the country against al Qaeda and
the Taliban was not over.
"There are ongoing attacks on the al Qaeda and
the Taliban -- the war is certainly not over,"
U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Robert Finn told
Reuters while inspecting a road project in the
village of Durani, southwest of Kabul.
"Military operations are continuing, especially
in the eastern part of the county and they will
continue until we win."
U.S. troops leading a 12,000-strong coalition
combing remote regions for Taliban and al Qaeda
survivors of last year's intense air assault said
they were sure their presence was making
Afghanistan, and the world, a safer place.
"Life is hard but we realize we are doing
something that is so much bigger and better than
what we could do at home," said Sergeant Nicola
Hall, sitting on a mountain rock at an undisclosed
location in southeastern Afghanistan.
Hall, originally from England, is a 22-year-old now
living in Fayetteville, North Carolina and working
for the U.S. Army.
Staff Sergeant Carmen Damiani, from Cleveland, Ohio,
said Afghans themselves were benefiting from the
"People of Afghanistan just want to be free.
They want to live their own lives," he said.
At Bagram Air Base, the U.S. military headquarters
just north of the capital Kabul, pilots and their
crew were also satisfied at what they said was a job
"Over here it's kind of like Groundhog Day
every day," said Staff Sergeant Michael Wilkie,
a crew chief from Michigan now living in Tucson.
"Sometimes, just looking back, it's good to be
here doing what America does best."
A sticker on one warplane at the base read
"Terrorist Hunting Permit number 91101."
Bombs being loaded onto aircraft carried slogans
including "May you rest in pieces and in
ONE YEAR ON
U.S. air strikes on Afghanistan began at night on
October 7 last year and allowed the Northern
Alliance to drive the fundamentalist Taliban regime
from power within weeks.
The United States attacked Afghanistan after blaming
al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden for the
attacks on New York and Washington on September 11
last year. The whereabouts of bin Laden and Taliban
leader Mullah Omar are not known.
The commanding American general in Afghanistan told
Reuters last week the campaign had gone far better
than expected and would continue until the country
was stable and no longer a viable base for
Lieutenant General Dan McNeill said several hundred
al Qaeda fighters were still active in Afghanistan
but they were scattered around the country, and,
while still dangerous, did not appear to be in a
position to mount large-scale operations.
He said coalition forces would remain until
Afghanistan had an army trained and equipped to
provide national security and conditions for "a
recurrence of terrorist organizations and their
ability to recruit or train" were eliminated.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah told a news
conference Sunday the formation of a national army
could take three to five years but he could not say
how long U.S. and other foreign forces would need to
remain in the country.
"I think as long as we all agree that the
situation is stable enough and al Qaeda is not a
threat to the stability of Afghanistan or elsewhere.
One cannot give a timetable."
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