Obama adviser Jones shifted Afghanistan views — a lot

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At the Pentagon, he said, “It is going well in the regions where we had permanent presence. In the south there was no such presence; there is now. This is the test, this is a moment of - the moment of truth. I’m hopeful that in the near future the south will become as peaceful as the north and parts of the west are.”

A relatively short time later, he signed a letter, with study group co-chairman Thomas R. Pickering, that said, “The progress achieved after six years of international engagement is under serious threat from resurgent violence, weakening international resolve, mounting regional challenges and a growing lack of confidence on the part of the Afghan people about the future direction of their country. The United States and the international community have tried to win the struggle in Afghanistan with too few military forces.”

Mr. Jones said in The Times’ interview last Friday that after the big NATO offensive in the south, the Taliban changed tactics.

“The Taliban took us on almost conventionally because they evidently believed that NATO wouldn’t fight,” he said. “The seven or eight countries that put combat troops to do the fighting in [Regional Command] South dealt them a major blow tactically.

“And if you recall it was such a heavy blow that in the spring of ‘07 there wasn’t much of a spring offensive. That was a major hit and ever since then the Taliban tactics have changed. They’re hit and run. Small skirmishes. Squad-size activities. Platoon-size at the most. They clearly learned a lesson there that taking on NATO forces frontally was not a good strategy.”

Mr. Jones recalled his last meeting as NATO commander with the North Atlantic Council, the military alliance’s governing board.

“I started questioning whether we were paying enough attention to things like combating drugs, combating corruption, effective governance, rule of law and the cohesion that has to exist between security, development and good governance. So those three pillars,” he said.

“I told them that I thought that failure to demand better performance across those three pillars and more cohesion was going to prolong our involvement and could lead to major problems in the future. So on that score I think I’ve been very consistent since ‘05.”

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