…just got back from Afghanistan. Here are the introductory points from his report on what he saw:
• Afghanistan has in the short space of five years moved from a situation of mindless violence, cruelty, poverty, massive production of drugs, the absence of government, and isolation – to a nation with a struggling democratic government; an exploding economy; a rapidly growing, disciplined Army; a vibrant free press, and active diplomatic and economic ties with its neighbors and the world. The 30 million people have showed almost unbelievable gratitude for the actions of the international community and have welcomed a significant foreign presence with great hospitality and trust.
• Opium production has been dramatically slashed by 48% just in the past year. In less than three years, 4.4 million refugees have flooded back into the nation. 95% of the refugee camps in Pakistan have been closed. A Constitution has been adopted.
• A President has been elected who is a Statesman of enormous integrity, vision, and courage. A Parliament has been elected with representation from every walk of political life – and a greater percentage of women than any other democracy in the world. The road network and transportation infrastructure have gone from absolutely nonfunctional to a rapidly growing network that is beginning re-vitalize the economy and trade with its neighbors.
• Massive amounts of international and private foreign aid are pouring into the country. The totally destroyed educational system is beginning to function. The agricultural and livestock system has grown enormously. The irrigation system destroyed by the Soviets is coming back.
• The security situation is so dramatically changed for the better that no platoon-sized unit has ever been defeated in battle. U.S. Forces routinely operate in squad sized units.
• As one US Army Aviation Brigade Commander told me – “I have been flying over this country for three combat tours since 2001- the change for the better is almost unbelievable – I can see it with my own eyes from 500 feet.”