“You can ask yourself the rhetorical question, what if we find 100 fugitives in the fields?” Gen. Thompson said. “What is ISAF’s duty in that circumstance? Is it to go arrest people?”
The commander continued: “We’re not policing this country, right? It’s not our role to police this country. Our role is to stand behind our Afghan partners and assist them.”
But the Afghan forces stationed nearby did not consider themselves capable of standing up to the Taliban that evening, as police in three outposts around the prison hunkered down behind their fortifications and refused to intervene.
“I don’t see a factual basis for a commentary suggesting that this country is sliding into chaos,” MacKay told reporters during a teleconference call.
He said there is more evidence “capacity-building” is starting to take hold and pointed to the efforts of the Afghan government “to build a more functioning and more dedicated police force.”
MacKay was responding to an article in the widely read U.S. journal Foreign Affairs, which said that with the “Taliban resurgent, reconstruction faltering, and opium poppy cultivation at an all-time high, Afghanistan is at risk of collapsing into chaos.”
MacKay said there was a lot of “tangible proof” of improvements that have been made in Afghanistan, citing new schools, hospitals and roads, along with vocational training and microcredit programs to help develop the Afghan economy.
“All of this shows that the Afghan people and the government have moved ahead considerably,” he said. “And the pace, in my opinion, is only going to increase as we’re able to bring about greater stability — particularly in the southern region.”