February 2008
By Alan W. Dowd

Points of Progress from the Forgotten Front
Afghanistan, the forgotten front of the War on Terror, is producing good news of late.

-The German parliament voted overwhelmingly to extend its military’s participation in the peacekeeping operation, which means that 3,000 German troops will stay in Afghanistan.

-French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised “our Canadian and American friends that we will not break the allies’ solidarity in the battle that is underway against terrorism in Afghanistan.” As The Globe and Mail has reported, since Sarkozy came to power, France has deployed a group of fighter-bombers to support ground troops and has deployed additional troops to train Afghan forces.

-Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada has vowed to extend his country’s military commitment in Afghanistan through 2011.

-Likewise, New Zealand recently extended its military deployment to Afghanistan for another two years, through September 2009. As Prime Minister Helen Clark puts it, “A peaceful Afghanistan, able to provide for its people and prevent itself being used as a terrorist base, is in the interests of the international community.”

-Six years after the U.S. led the world into Afghanistan, one of the greatest reverse Diasporas in history continues, as more than 4.6 million Afghan refugees have returned home since 2001.

-Some five million Afghan children are now in school—about 1.8 million of them are girls.

-Afghan President Hamid Karzai reports that no less than 135,000 children under the age of five are alive today because of the U.S.-led liberation.

-Backed by the muscle of the U.S. military and its NATO partners, relief agencies have built or renovated 640 health clinics, 600 schools and 4,000 miles of roads to connect the fragmented country of Afghanistan.

-And coalition commanders recently declared that Taliban forces have been defeated in Zabul province. “My assessment of the threat in this province is that the insurgency has suffered a total defeat,” according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Karl Slaughenhaupt, who advises and trains a brigade of the Afghan National Army (ANA). “The insurgents cannot defeat the ANA in battle,” Slaughenhaupt bluntly concluded during a teleconference from Afghanistan. “They have been degraded by the ANA and forced to change tactics.”

As a contributing editor to The American Legion, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.