U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, sets his sites on Kandahar. UPI/Brian Tuthill/DOD | License Photo
KABUL, Afghanistan, March 9 (UPI) -- International and Afghan forces will "absolutely" gain control over the southern restive province of Kandahar, said U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Afghan and international forces launched Operation Moshtarak in Helmand province Feb. 13 to remove the Taliban from power and prop up a new government. Military officials there warn the fighting isn't over but the mission is moving beyond the military offensive.
U.S. military planners said the Helmand offensive serves as a model for counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. McChrystal, the head of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, said in Kabul that there were roughly 30,000 troops deployed near Kandahar, the U.S. Defense Department said.
"We are absolutely going to secure Kandahar," he said. "We are already doing a lot of operations in Kandahar but it is our intent under (Afghan) President (Hamid) Karzai's direction to make an even greater effort there."
McChrystal said the Helmand offensive showed Afghans that counterinsurgency operations could develop with a light footprint.
"We want the Afghan people to see the approach of security does not necessarily mean there will be a set-piece battle in their neighborhood," he said.