Washington native promoted to brigadier general, says Afghan insurgency dying
By Tom Fontaine
Published: Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A Washington native who recently became a one-star Army general said on Friday that the Taliban insurgency is failing in Afghanistan.
“Insurgencies live and die on perceptions, and this insurgency is dying, absolutely dying,” Brig. Gen. James R. Blackburn Jr., 49, told the Tribune-Review in a phone interview from Kabul, the nation's capital.
The Army promoted Blackburn to brigadier general on Wednesday. Blackburn, on the fifth combat tour of his 27-year career, is serving as deputy commander with the Army's 3rd Corps and International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.
Blackburn said he is overseeing troops that largely play a supporting role to Afghan security forces, which now handle 85 percent of combat operations on their own. U.S.-led coalition forces provide Afghans with access to intelligence, improved weaponry and medical support.
It's far different from 2½ years ago, when Blackburn was helping train Afghan forces that were just beginning to stand on their own in Zabul Province. The goal is for Afghan forces to be self-sufficient by a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. and NATO combat troops in late 2014.
“That doesn't mean they will be ready to go cold turkey by then,” Blackburn said.
The brigadier general said he is humbled by his promotion, crediting others with his development.
“That is a tremendous personal honor and Washington County is proud of him,” said Barry A. Grimm, director of the county's Department of Veterans Affairs.
A graduate of Washington High School, Blackburn earned a political science degree from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a distinguished military graduate. Blackburn is married with three children, the youngest of whom is a high school quarterback in Virginia. The general watched his son's season-opener this year online.
Blackburn said he is following from overseas the Pirates' remarkable turnaround, and he eagerly awaits the Steelers' season-opener on Sunday.
“I'm a 'Burgher,” Blackburn said.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Kovacevic: Still waiting on Malkin, Crosby
- Norwin volleyball using fast-paced offense to offset lack of height at hitting positions
- Rossi: Lack of together time showing for Penguins’ defense
- Architecture photos show difference between drama, fact
- Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- ‘Common knowledge’ about slot machines often wrong
- Community group to preserve Dravosburg cemetery’s history
- Fleury a bright spot among struggling Penguins in playoffs
- LaBar: Did WWE referee know finish to Undertaker match?