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Key to Success in Afghanistan is Protecting Civilians: NATO Commander to VOA

'If we take care of the Afghan people, the Taliban will fail'

Washington, D.C., January 13, 2010 – The commander of NATO forces told the Voice of America (VOA) that earning the support of the Afghan people is the most important element in defeating Taliban militants in Afghanistan. <!-- IMAGE -->

“In any type of operation like this, we have to put the Afghan people at the center of gravity,” U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis said in an exclusive interview with VOA. “If we take care of the Afghan people, the Taliban will fail."

Stavridis, who took command of NATO forces in June, said understanding the Afghan people is key to his strategic view. Intelligence efforts need to be geared to learning as much as possible about how the Afghans live and what they want.

Moreover, the Afghan government needs to continue to fight corruption and improve services for the people, said Stavridis, whose NATO command includes most of the U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan.

Stavridis told VOA that when President Obama reviews his Afghanistan strategy, which includes a surge of more than 30,000 additional U.S. troops, there should be several measures of success.

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“I would look for polling data that continues to show significant support for the coalition and very small support for the Taliban,” he said. “Second, I would look for the numbers of Afghan security forces. Thirdly, I would look at the quality of the operations conducted by the Afghan security forces.”

VOA broadcasts to Afghanistan on radio and television in Dari, Pashto and Special English daily. The Service is also on the Internet at and

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.

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