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Gates: Increasing Violence in Afghanistan Expected in Weeks Ahead

April 21, 2011 10:45 PM

ABC News' Kristina Wong reports:

Three months ahead of the beginning of a July 2011 U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters today there has been “some uptick in activity” by Taliban fighers, and that he expected “an increase in the level of violence and activity beginning in a few weeks.”

“We're still kind of in the middle of the poppy harvest. ... So I think they're really expecting whatever return to the battlefield there is by the Taliban will be probably sometime more in May -- in May and June,” he told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday.

Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartright, who spoke alongside Gates, said that the recent uptick was more along the lines of the “individual spectacular attack rather than groups of people.”

U.S. military officials have said the Taliban's momentum has been reversed, but today Gates warned that its fighters “clearly intend to try to take that back.”

“My own view is that this year is a critical year,” he said. “If we can prevent them this year from retaking the areas that we have taken away from them, and we can continue to expand the security bubble, I think it's possible that by the end of this year we will have turned a corner just because of the Taliban being driven out, and, more importantly, kept out.” 

“But,” he said, “that's more months into the future than it is -- than it is weeks.”

From Afghanistan, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Sean Mulholland, deputy commander of Regional Command-North, said today he was “cautiously optimistic.”

“The winter gains are still holding. We haven't lost any territory,” he told reporters today from Afghanistan. “I would still say we are still in the woods. We're not out of the woods. We still need to be relentless in continuing to pressure the Taliban and the bad actors up here."

While American casualties in Afghanistan due to hostile fire are comparable to last year’s, there has been a significant uptick in this April compared to last April, according to statistics compiled by iCasualties.org.

22 U.S. troops have been killed so far this month, compared to 14 U.S. troops last April.

April 21, 2011 | Permalink | Share | User Comments (4)

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"22 U.S. troops have been killed so far this month, compared to 14 U.S. troops last April."

In addition, the number of our soldiers killed in the past two years is astounding, yet the media and the antiwar crowd seem to be on vacation. Obama's policies of SNAFU and FUBAR seem to be working well...

Posted by: Sigmonde | Apr 24, 2011 8:32:26 AM

Rick, are you trying to say that you think that the US military DIDN'T win the war in Afghanistan?

In case you have been in a cave, Rick Van Winkle, the war was won a long time ago. Time to leave.

Posted by: Flash Override | Apr 23, 2011 11:27:32 AM

We are really stupid to keep trying to play gentle in Afghanistan.

Either wage war and win, no matter what the cost.......or get out.

I figure the best alternative is to get out, because the politicians won't allow the military to do what is genuinely needed, to win.

Posted by: Rick McDaniel | Apr 22, 2011 11:09:48 AM

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates should adopt DHS Secretary Napolitano's recently scrapped Terror Alert Color Code system for Afghanistan! Since most of the people in Afghanistan either cannot or don't have the time to read about terror threats the color system should work well for the general population!!

Posted by: Voice_Reason | Apr 22, 2011 10:48:30 AM

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