Next year, NATO will assume security and stability operations in all sectors of Afghanistan—its toughest challenge since the Balkan crisis, according to Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Jones told reporters in Washington Thursday that NATO forces are ready for the task. He noted, though, that rules of engagement are still being refined for troops in the southern and more restive section of the country. “We’ll have a satisfactory resolution to that problem,” declared Jones. He admitted that dealing with security in Afghanistan is very complicated. The nature of violence in the country right now is not “cohesive,” since it involves elements from Taliban rebels to local warlords and narcotics rings, said Jones. He believes the Kabul government has two fundamental tasks: making its presence felt in the countryside and tackling the No. 1 problem in the country’s future—the resurgent opium trade.
Two Airmen endured -45 degree temperatures during an Arctic survival course in the far north, where national security experts worry the U.S. is underprepared to counter Russia or China.