US Military May Focus on Reconstruction in Afghanistan
Top-ranking Pentagon officials are talking about shifting the war on terrorism in Afghanistan toward reconstruction efforts. General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s top military officer, said that the military may need to shift its focus from military operations to more nation-building type activities, according to the Washington Post. This statement came after the CIA released a report that concluded: “Reconstruction may be the single most important factor in increasing security throughout Afghanistan and preventing it from again becoming a haven for terrorists,” the Post reported.
The Feminist Majority, Afghan women, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, humanitarian aid organizations and others have been asking the US government to commit to greater reconstruction funding and expansion of international peacekeeping forces beyond the capital of Kabul in order to promote security. Despite President Bush’s early promise of a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, very little reconstruction funding has reached the Afghan government for the rebuilding of the country's health and education systems and physical infrastructure. As of October 2002, less than two-thirds of the $1.8 billion pledged for 2002 had been received, and only $1 of every $5 has gone to the Afghan government. While the US has exceeded its $297 million pledge for 2002, the pledge is too small, and no US pledges have been made beyond 2002.
In an effort to promote security in the outer regions of the country and stem the tide of terrorism, Karzai exerted the control of the newly elected central government last week by dismissing 15 generals and commanders, accusing them of abuse of authority, corruption, and in some cases participation in the drug trade, according to the New York Times. Recently, attacks on 12 girls’ schools have made it clear that the security situation in Afghanistan is a major concern, especially for girls and women. In many of the attacks, including the four most recent, handwritten notes or pamphlets have appeared warning of future violence if parents send their girls to school. Many of the attacks have occurred in the remote regions away from the capitol of Kabul without peacekeeping troops.