British PM warned of Al-Qaeda return to Afghanistan
By Sajad - Sun Aug 05 2012, 2:25 pm
Military commanders have warned the Prime Minister that Afghanistan’s future could be jeopardised with al-Qaeda returning to the country if foreign troops are withdrawn too quickly, senior sources have disclosed.
Senior sources have disclosed that Cameron has been told that the current plan to give control of the country’s security to the Afghan forces next year may need to be ”diluted”.
According to The Telegraph, British commanders believe that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the Army and police, are not yet fully capable of taking over from international forces.
The source further added, “We have been on operations with the Afghans, where you have to kick the door down and push them inside the building to clear it. That goes down as an Afghan led operation. The plan is for British and US troops to take a back seat role next year but that is not going to happen in reality. The ANA has been able to build capacity but it lacks quality and that’s the worry.”
Under current plans the ANSF are supposed to take over responsibility for security by the middle of 2013 and all foreign troops will be withdrawn from combat operations by the end of 2014.
It would mean that Britain’s current deployment of 9,000 soldiers would be reduced significantly next year, and that after 2014, only a small number of UK forces would remain in Afghanistan, mostly as advisers to the Afghan military.
One source quoted by The Telegraph said, “The Afghan Army is not going to be ready to take the lead in operations next year, that is certain. There are very few kandaks [ANA battalions], probably fewer than 10, which can plan, mount and execute operations without NATO’s help.”
Cameron has also been told that the Taliban could regain power in Afghanistan if foreign troops are withdrawn too quickly from the country. The Ministry of Defence has calculated that ending combat operations by late 2013, a year earlier than planned, would save GBP 3 billion. Defence chiefs have strongly insisted that British troops must maintain a strong presence in the country until the end of 2014.