Eikenberry Poised to Be U.S. Ambassador

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 27, 2009 | Go to article overview

Eikenberry Poised to Be U.S. Ambassador


Byline: Jason Motlagh, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, President Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Afghanistan, faced no apparent opposition at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday and is likely to assume the post at a critical juncture in the U.S.-led counterinsurgency campaign.

Gen. Eikenberry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States and its international partners must redouble efforts to reverse Taliban gains in the embattled south and east of the country as well as deal with the booming drug trade that fuels them. He also promised more support to the Afghan national army and police.

The way ahead is clear but the resources to date have, regrettably, been insufficient, he said.

Speaking hours before the Obama administration is set to unveil a new strategy for the war that will deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan, Gen. Eikenberry said it was unclear whether Pakistan's intelligence service has dropped support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

We can succeed in Afghanistan, it's true, but if we don't address the problem, the linked problems in Pakistan, then we'll have no lasting success, he told the panel.

The Taliban and al Qaeda have sanctuaries in Pakistan.

An investigation by The Washington Times uncovered problems with U.S. aid to Afghanistan and police training that occurred when Gen. Eikenberry commanded U.S.-led forces in the country from 2005 to 2007. However, his supporters say he is fit for the diplomatic post because of his experience.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the committee, said because Gen. Eikenberry knows the local terrain and the military side of the equation as well as anyone can, he is uniquely placed to get the civil-military balance right as ambassador.

So it's clear, Mr. Kerry added, that General Eikenberry is well-equipped to hit the ground running.

Gen. Eikenberry could be confirmed by the full Senate as early as next week. He would succeed William B. …

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