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US commander insists for significant post-2014 presence in Afghanistan

By Ghanizada - Wed Aug 14 2013, 3:13 pm

Top US commander in AfghanistanThe commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford insisted for a significant presence of foreign troops in the country beyond 2014.

The number of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are projected to be 352,000 by the time they take full security lead, however, the capabilities of the Afghan security forces and lack of proper equipment remains a challenge.

With the deadline for the withdrawal of all NATO combat troops getting closer, intense debates have already begun about the number of US and NATO troops to remain in the country beyond 2014.

Washington is reportedly cosidering to keep 7,000 U.S. troops, but some in the U.S. military would prefer two or three times as many, to support Afghan national security forces and conduct counter-terrorism operations.

While speaking during an interview with the Reuters, ISAF commander, Gen. Joseph Dunford argued for a significant presence after the U.S.-dominated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is disbanded next year.

Gen. Dunford said, “The post-2014 presence is a lot more complicated than the numbers and the numbers have become a distraction, to be honest with you.”

He said, “It’s about a lot more than numbers. It’s about what capability is required to sustain the Afghan security forces after 2014.”

The majority of the 87,000 NATO troops currently deployed in Afghanistan will leave by the end of 2014. Washington is expected to decide regarding the number of US troops to remain in Afghanistan, later this year. Other NATO member countries, including Germany and Italy will also make small contributions.

In the meantime, informal talks to resume the stalled negotiations over bilateral security agreement between Kabul and Washington is in process, which will allow the presence of US troops in the country for a long term, once the deal is finalized.

Dunford said he had talked “at every level from district and province to members of parliament … to President Karzai” and was adamant the pact would be signed.

He also said it was too early to judge whether the mission in Afghanistan had been successful, or how America’s longest war would be remembered.

“Our objective is a stable, secure and unified Afghanistan. And we’re still working towards that end,” Dunford told Reuters, adding that, “And if we achieve the objective … I think it will be remembered as being successful.”

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