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Allies NATO, U.S., Afghan Forces Battling Taliban in Afghanistan
Date: Thursday, January 18 2007

NATO, U.S., Afghan Forces Battling Taliban in Afghanistan
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
Jan 17, 2007 - 5:57:34 PM

Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, Commanding General, Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan
Blackanthem Military News, KABUL, Afghanistan NATO, U.S. and Afghan forces are preparing to counter an expected Taliban spring offensive, the commander of combined forces here said today.

Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, commander of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan, spoke to reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. The secretary is visiting the country to get a firsthand look at the situation on the ground and to meet with senior Afghan and American officials.

The general, who has served more than three years in Afghanistan since 2002, said he expects the Taliban to launch a terror offensive in the south and east of the country. "I would expect that the enemy will have its main effort against southern Afghanistan," he said. "The enemy will try to conduct terror attacks against Kandahar and other urban centers."

Eikenberry's command inactivates Jan. 21, and most American forces in Afghanistan already report to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. Between 23,000 and 24,000 American servicemembers are in Afghanistan, the highest troop level the United States has had in the nation, Eikenberry said. "I don't anticipate any reduction," he added.

Eikenberry said the Taliban would try to restrict the mobility of NATO forces and try to conduct attacks against district centers or outlying areas at night. These attacks will not be to hold the areas, just to cause disruption, he said.

The Taliban also will try to pin NATO forces in place along the Afghan border with Pakistan. He classified that tactic as the enemy's supporting effort. "I think there will be areas in the east and the south where they will reassert some of the influence they gained last spring and summer," Eikenberry said.

In spring and summer of 2006, Taliban fighters reasserted themselves in isolated communities in the country. However, U.S. and NATO forces pushed the Taliban fighters out in relatively short order. Still, the Taliban had a small psychological victory out of the offensive.


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