22 Sep 2009

We may never beat Taliban, US general warns

10:02 pm on 22 September 2009

The United States commander in Afghanistan has admitted that things are so dire there that there is a risk international forces will never beat the Taliban.

In a soon-to-be-published report to President Barack Obama, part of which has already appeared on the Washington Post website, General Stanley McChrystal maintains that victory is still possible, but far from certain.

The general wrote that the training of Afghan forces needed to be speeded up, but in the coming weeks he's expected to ask for tens of thousands of extra US forces.

He warned that "inadequate resources will likely result in failure".

More than 30,000 extra US troops have been sent to Afghanistan since May - almost doubling the US contingent.

But the BBC reports that first Washington needs to decide what strategy to pursue at a time when officials admit the security situation is worsening.

The White House says Mr Obama has not received any request for more troops in Afghanistan, and is not expecting one yet, because the situation there is still being assessed.

Prisons being used to 'recruit and plot attacks'

General McChrystal makes clear in the report that NATO-led troops are more focused on killing insurgents than protecting Afghan civilians. That, he wrote, needs to change.

He also says that Taliban and al Qaeda militants are using crowded prisons as a "sanctuary" to recruit and plot attacks. There are, he says, more insurgents per square foot in corrections facilities than anywhere else in Afghanistan.

Taliban and al Qaeda members comprise more than 2,500 of the country's 14,500 inmates.

The general says their leaders patiently coordinate and plan, unconcerned with interference from prison personnel or the military.