NATO needs a year to down Taliban

Jan. 22, 2007 at 12:37 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The British leader of NATO troops in Afghanistan says it will take another year and "more military effort" to defeat the Taliban insurgency.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, British army Gen. David Richards said NATO's strategy should avoid treating operations in isolation, rather than as part of an overall plan for the whole country.

"I am concerned that NATO nations will assume the same level of risk in 2007, believing they can get away with it," Richards said. "We should and can win in Afghanistan but we need to put more military effort into the country. We must apply ourselves more energetically for one more year in order to win."

Richards commands 31,000 troops in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and said he wanted member governments such as Germany and France to honor a promise to provide a 1,000-member reserve battalion for Afghanistan.

The general told the newspaper he thought the defeat of Taliban forces in a major battle last September when 1,000 insurgents were killed had changed the tide of the conflict.

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