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General: Eastern Afghanistan better

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Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 12:00 pm

By Lisa Daniel

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Eastern Afghanistan's government and security forces increasingly are improving their capabilities and eliciting confidence in the people they serve, a U.S. commander in the area said Thursday.

As NATO's International Security Assistance Force builds on improved security in the area, provincial and district government and security forces are growing in their capabilities and confidence, Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, commander of ISAF's Regional Command East, said during a Pentagon media briefing.

"Tactically, we have kept pressure on the insurgent networks and cleared several support zones and, in the process, strengthened the leadership and capability of our Afghan partners," Allyn told reporters in a video teleconference from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Afghan National Police demonstrated that progress earlier this month when they led a combined mission that distributed 160 tons of humanitarian assistance to residents of Nuristan province. It was an "extremely complex" mission and, unlike similar previous missions, involved limited coalition assistance, Allyn said.

Along the Pakistan border, the command is working to improve communication and coordination between Afghan and Pakistani forces, he said, adding that border forces just completed a "very effective" exercise to do just that.

In missions along the border in recent days, Afghan border police seized more than six tons of ammonium nitrate –- an illegal fertilizer used in homemade explosives -- being smuggled into the country from Pakistan, Allyn said.

Two eastern provinces and one capital district have started their transition to taking over for coalition forces for security of those areas as part of the U.S. drawdown of forces that began last month, the general said.

The coalition partnership is allowing residents more access to essential services and, more and more, they are "becoming inhospitable to insurgents," he said.

The side effect, Allyn said, are the "ruthless, desperate and inexplicable acts of insurgents" against civilians.

"Their blatant disregard for the citizens of Afghanistan" manifests in suicide attacks that target innocent civilians in population centers, he said.

Coalition forces "will continue to support our partners and ensure they meet irreversible stability," Allyn said. "We will continue to press forward with our Afghan partners to help them achieve a stable future."

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