General see signs Afghans insurgents disillusioned

AP News
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Posted: Jun 01, 2011 3:09 PM
General see signs Afghans insurgents disillusioned

There are signs some local militants in Afghanistan are disillusioned with the fight against international forces and are resisting orders from their leaders in Pakistan to step up the insurgency, a NATO commander said Wednesday.

Speaking from Kabul, Australian Army Maj. Gen. Michael Krause told Pentagon reporters that intelligence suggests militants have shortages of weapons and explosives. He said the tempo of insurgent operations also has slackened, with more time between attacks.

"We are picking up disenchantment and disillusionment" among "key parts of the insurgency," Krause said.

His comments follow a string of suicide bombings and other attacks that have been launched as part of the Taliban's spring campaign so far. The attacks have been high-profile, though relatively small scale, yet could undermine the population's confidence in the Afghan government.

Still, Krause asserted: "They've grabbed a lot of headlines, but they've grabbed nothing of operational significance."

Krause said Australian commandos also reported after a mission in southern Afghanistan that there was a higher proportion of foreign fighters in the area. "And what that's telling us is that the insurgency is not relying on the locals anymore _ they are having to bring in foreign fighters to stiffen and actually carry out a lot of these operations."

Through eavesdropping, officials have heard Taliban commanders from their safe havens in Pakistan, "encouraging their fighters to fight harder," Krause said. "And quite frankly, the locals are saying no, which is great."

Krause used the oft-repeated caution given by other commanders that progress in Afghanistan is "reversible and fragile" and said there is tough fighting ahead.

But, he said, there's "enough there to give us a lot of confidence ... a hell of a lot of issues going on in there, and we're happy to see that."