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Taliban spring offensive no match for Afghan, coalition forces

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As each day passes, the Afghan national security forces continue to increase and ready itself for the upcoming transition to protect and serve the people and government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

“The ANSF is ready to take responsibility and I have no concerns about the upcoming transition,” said Afghan Ministry of Defense Spokesperson Brig. Gen. M. Azimi during a MOD Joint News Conference held at the Government Media Information Center in Kabul May 25.

Despite the expected increase in Taliban and insurgent attacks that have occurred this spring, Afghan and International Security Assistance Force officials said many attacks are discovered and neutralized before they occur—saving lives, unlike the hundreds of innocent civilians who’ve been targeted and subsequently injured and killed this spring by those against a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

But as good as the Afghan and coalition forces are at foiling attacks; they cannot be everywhere nor prevent every attack from taking place.

“Attacks happen and will continue to happen,” said Azimi. “It does not mean we are not ready to counter attack. We have better equipment and more capacity. We have lots of professional officers and commanders. We are all ready to repel the attacks of the insurgents and beat them down.”

“The so-called Taliban spring offensive is providing the perfect platform to demonstrate growth in an increasing number of areas,” said German Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, ISAF spokesperson, who also spoke to the international media during the Afghan-led press conference, along with Afghan Criminal Justice Task Force Director Yar Mohammad Hosinkhail.

Blotz said some examples include the growth of the imagination of the insurgents’ propaganda machine; the growth of local Afghan’s intolerance for insurgents to hide themselves, narcotics and weapons in their villages; the growing ranks of former insurgents reintegrating into society; the growth and increased capabilities of the ANSF; and consequently, the growing confidence of the Afghan people in its forces.

While the combined efforts of the Afghan military, police and border patrol have had positive effects on the future of their nation, Azimi said increasing the literacy rate of those wearing the uniform is vital as his country readies itself to meet the 2014 transition timeline.

“Currently, we have 81,000 soldiers being taught how to read and write by 2,000 teachers,” Azimi said. “Under the literacy program, 50 percent of the troops are expected to become literate in the next three years.”

Another special interest area of the Afghan government is counter narcotics and Hosinkhail, who spoke at length about some recent successes of the program which has taken various drugs and heavy weaponry off the streets including those who traffic them.

“There are lots of things to say about the Ministry of Defense,” said Hosinkhail. “There are a lot of champions in the Afghan National Army. We are proud of them.”

In Afghanistan, it’s well-known that heroin, opium, cocaine and hashish traffickers are protecting their drug trade and transportation, are using their weapons and ammunition and have relations with terrorists to threaten people.

“Our brave Afghan National Army and Police have started a serious fight against drug traffickers,” said Hosinkhail. “They have always confiscated the weapons and arrested the drug smugglers themselves.”

During the press conference, Hosinkhail said 320 suspects have been arrested and their weapons have been turned in. Of those, 173 were sent to prison while other cases are underway and will be completed soon. This will continue until all drug traffickers stop and are out of business, he added.

As a part of the arrests that were made, 11 rocket-propelled grenades, 200 AK-47 machine guns, 18 PK machine guns, 70 pistols, shrapnel guns and other types of weapons and ammo were confiscated and are scheduled to be turned-in.

“Under the 14th Article, all our forces are capable and are engaging traffickers and confiscating drugs and weapons,” said Hosinkhail. “With the counter narcotics law in mind; our department will continue its war against drug traffickers, to eradicate poppy crops, to destroy the heroin factories and to arrest smugglers. We also call on tribal elders to cooperate so that we can finally have a poppy free country.”

Article by Master Sgt. Michael O'Connor, ISAF HQ Public Affairs