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David Barno on Afghanistan

Interviewee: Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, Director, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies; former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan
Interviewer: Greg Bruno, Staff writer
May 2, 2008

An April 27 assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered a clear reminder of the security challenges confronting Afghanistan on its path to stability. But retired army Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says U.S. efforts in Afghanistan are at a fork in the road (PDF). Prior to 2006, when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) assumed overall military command in the country, international efforts were “built around a linkage” between the Afghan government and U.S. military and diplomatic commands. Under the current NATO-led framework much of that “overarching strategy is now absent,” the general says.

To rein in militants and lower violence, then, Barno says the United States and its allies may need to reevaluate the current command structure. Whoever enters the White House in 2009 will need to tackle unrest in the border region with Pakistan, while reassuring both countries that the U.S. commitment to the region is long term. That may mean appointing a “super envoy” with presidential authority to frame a regional solution to the conflict.

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