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Cablegate: Afghan Minister of Defense: I Support Mcchrystal's

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 USNATO 000444

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS MCAP MARR PREL NATO PINS PTER AF
SUBJECT: AFGHAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE: I SUPPORT MCCHRYSTAL'S
WAY AHEAD

REF: SG(2009)0846

USNATO 00000444 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) On October 6, NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen
distributed to Allies a letter he received from Afghan
Minister of Defense General Wardak (ref). In the letter,
Wardak expressed his "wholehearted support for the findings
of General McChrystal's assessment of the situation in
Afghanistan and his recommended way ahead." He went on to
argue that the new strategy should be "fully resourced."
Describing the situation in Afghanistan as being at a
"critical juncture," Wardak warned that failure in
Afghanistan could result in the country becoming a terrorist
base or a failed state, as well as a source for regional and
global instability." He stressed, however, that he believed
that the war was still "winnable."

2. (SBU) Wardak also praised McChrystal for taking a new
approach in his dealings with the Afghan government,
commenting that "We Afghans now really think we are a part of
the same team."

3. (SBU) The full text of Wardak's letter follows:

BEGIN TEXT:

1 October 2009

The Honorable Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Secretary-General
North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Dear Secretary-General,

My purpose in writing is to express wholehearted support for
the findings of General McChrystal's assessment of the
situation in Afghanistan and his recommended way ahead. I
base my support not only as the Minister of Defense, but as a
professional soldier with over 31 years experience as both an
insurgent and counter-insurgent leader. As his assessment
makes clear, we are at a critical point in our endeavor. We
have arrived here by virtue of decisions made in the past
that underestimated the enemy, failed to identify the true
source of the threat, did not create a fully resourced
civil-military counterinsurgency campaign plan, that failed
to deliver good governance and development for the people,
and that under-resourced the campaign. However, victory is
still within our grasp, provided that we recommit ourselves
based on lessons learned. As GEN McChrystal states in his
assessment success is achievable but additional resources and
significant changes in strategy are required.

The stakes are high in Afghanistan. Failure could result in
the country becoming a terrorist base or a failed state, as
well as a source of regional and global instability.
Therefore, as General McChrystal also emphasized, our efforts
require a firm political will and substantial patience on the
part of the Afghan people, the Afghan government, and the
countries providing support. Any wavering of our resolve or
suggestion of an exit strategy or deadline for withdrawal
would be, as Secretary Gates said, a "strategic mistake" and
have catastrophic consequences for us all.

Counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency are inextricably
linked. Counter-terrorism alone leads to an open ended
campaign, one that never ends. It will not lead to strategic
victory. In fact, many argue that the campaign we have
conducted these last eight years was heavily-tilted toward
counter-terrorism rather than a full civil-military
counter-insurgency effort. Adopting a counter-terrorism
strategy would be dealing with the symptoms rather than the
disease. Defeating such enemies requires a global strategic
response and continued strong leadership by all parties

USNATO 00000444 002.2 OF 003


involved. The response must also address the array of linked
sources and conflicts that sustain their movement, while
addressing local grievances. The key to success is winning
the struggle for the support of the people by protecting them
from the enemy and increasing their welfare through good
governance and economic development. We must regain the
initiative from the enemy, and gain the people's trust that
we are committed to seeing the mission through to its end.
To quote Sir Winston Churchill, "Success is not final and
failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that
counts." Patience, a long war strategy, and the allocation
of sufficient resources can make all the difference. The
Taliban lacks strong leadership, popular support, and an
ideology that Afghans can embrace. Yet the threat is growing
due to its external support and the weakness of our joint
efforts. Proper application of General McChrystal's strategy
will counter this threat, and ensure our joint victory.

We must ensure that security operations are integrated with
civilian - and principally Afghan-led - efforts to improve
governance and development. The government's support and
legitimacy will increase only if we can assure the security
of the people and provide them with the basic necessities of
life. Therefore the new strategy should be fully resourced.
By doing so we will shorten the duration of the campaign.

I firmly believe that General McChrystal's assessment has all
of the elements that we have longed for since 2002,
including: accelerating the growth and fielding of the ANA
and ANP: further growth of the ANSF to 400,000 personnel;
more effective partnering arrangements between ISAF and ANSF;
increasing economic aid and making Afghan ministries the
vehicle for delivering development assistance; renewing
reconciliation efforts; continuing progress with respect to
civilian casualties, collateral damage, house searches and
detention; intensifying international efforts to deprive the
enemy of its external support; and overhauling the
counter-narcotics efforts. To implement these elements, NATO
can play a decisive and significant role for which Your
Excellency's support is requested.

Success for Afghans is to be able to defend Afghan territory
on our own, with the US and NATO playing strong supporting
roles as part of an enduring strategic partnership with our
country. An Afghan solution is far more cost-effective,
politically less complex, and will save the lives of our
friends and allies. We therefore will accelerate the growth
of the Afghan National Security Forces. But as General
McChrystal acknowledged in his assessment, until the ANSF has
sufficient capability coalition forces must "bridge the gap"
to prevent any deterioration in the situation and to ensure
HOLD can be achieved in order to allow BUILD.

The approach General McChrystal as the NATO ISAF Commander
has already taken is unprecedented. We Afghans now really
think we are part of the same team. There is more
integration in our planning processes, more sharing of
intelligence and enhanced operational cohesiveness. And the
way he has described partnership will further improve our
effectiveness and prepare us for the day we can fully take
over the responsibility for our security.

We are at a critical juncture in our history. For Afghans it
is a question of our national survival. We will therefore
recommit ourselves and spare no effort or sacrifice to
achieve our goal. We have come so far together and paid so
much in blood and treasure, but the final destination is now
clearly visible. Failure is not an option, so I ask for your
full support of General McChrystal's assessment and let us
continue our struggle with more courage, determination and
resources. I truly believe, as General McChrystal does, that
this war is winnable.

USNATO 00000444 003.2 OF 003

Sincerely Yours,

/s/

General Abdul Rahim Wardak
Minister of National Defense

END TEXT
HEFFERN

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