In the news...

October 19, 2012

Karzai: NATO can speed up handover of security

Slobodan Lekic
Associated Press

President Hamid Karzai said Oct. 18 the nation’s military and police are ready and willing to take full responsibility for security in the country if the U.S.-led international coalition decides to speed up the handover to Afghan government forces.
With support for the already unpopular war fading in the West, there has been growing speculation that NATO could accelerate withdrawal plans that currently call for the security transition to Afghan forces to be complete by the end of 2014, when all foreign combat troops are scheduled to leave the country.

“Afghans are ready to expedite the process of transition if necessary, and willing as well,” Karzai said during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “So this is in all aspects good news for us and good news for NATO.”

A NATO diplomat said there was no discussion of speeding up the 2014 timeline during the meeting between Karzai and the alliance chief. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with alliance’s regulations, said Karzai was eager to see the next stage of transition, which would have Afghan forces take charge of security for almost the entire country.
There are questions, however, about the ability of the Afghan forces to secure the country.

The Afghan army has grown to 184,676 soldiers, and the country’s police force now numbers 146,339 officers – putting them just short of the planned number of 352,000 members. But critics say the rapid expansion has not significantly improved their ability to plan and conduct operations without support from foreign forces in terms of logistics, air support and medical evacuations.

Furthermore, the number of Afghans leaving the army has remained stubbornly high, with 27 percent of troops either deserting or not re-enlisting despite the higher salaries offered. And though the number of volunteers is still high, the army needs to train about 50,000 recruits each year just to compensate for the loss.

Polls show that the 11-year war has little public support among NATO’s 28 member states, most of which are cutting defense budgets as part of the austerity measures adopted to deal with the financial crises.

A recent upsurge in the number of insider attacks on coalition troops by Afghan soldiers or police – or insurgents disguised in their uniforms – has further undermined public support for the war in the West. At least 52 American and other NATO troops have died so far this year in those attacks.

In the past several months, there have been calls in the United States and elsewhere to accelerate the drawdown and to withdraw coalition troops by the end of next year.

Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance remains committed to help enable Afghan forces assume full responsibility for the country’s security after 2014. The military alliance has also agreed to offer a smaller, post-2014 mission to help Afghan forces with training, advice and assistance.

“We are committed to continuing that cooperation with the Afghan national security forces,” he said.

The secretary-general and NATO’s governing body, the North Atlantic Council, were visiting Kabul Oct. 18 for meetings with Karzai, coalition military commander Gen. John Allen and commanders of Afghan government forces.

The current strategy agreed to by NATO, its partners and Karzai’s government is to enable the Afghans to take over the war against the Taliban and other insurgents by the end of 2014.

NATO started drawing down its forces earlier this year. It currently has 104,000 troops in Afghanistan – 68,000 of them Americans – down from 140,000 the alliance had here in 2011. Among those who left are the 33,000 U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan after 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered a surge in a bid to quell the Taliban.

Karzai also said he did not believe the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections in the United States would affect Washington’s long-term policy toward Afghanistan regardless of whether President Barack Obama or his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, emerges as the winner.

“America has a set strategy for Afghanistan and any government who comes in will follow that, so it will not affect Afghanistan,” Karzai said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 30, 2015

News: Taliban claims responsibility for attack on Americans at military base near airport - The Taliban claimed responsibility Jan. 30 for a shooting incident at a military base attached to Kabul’s international airport yesterday that killed three American civilian contractors and an Afghan national, saying the attacker had infiltrated the ranks of the security forces. Commission...
 
 

News Briefs January 30, 2015

Military judge weighs restrictions on Gitmo female guards A military judge is deciding whether to continue restricting the use of female guards at Guantanamo. Navy Capt. J. Kirk Waits heard closing arguments Jan. 29 at the base in Cuba during a pretrial hearing for Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi. Waits didn’t say when he will rule. Hadi...
 
 

Headlines January 28, 2015

News: Panel will propose new military retirement system - The long-awaited report on military compensation set to drop Thursday will propose fundamental changes to military retirement and health care benefits, according to several people familiar with the report. Source: DOD to request $585 billion for fiscal 2016 - The Department of Defense is preparing to submit a...
 

 

News Briefs January 28, 2015

Defense contractor to pay $2 million to settle claims A Northern California defense contractor will pay the federal government $2 million to settle claims about its manufacturing of parts for remote-controlled aircraft. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento says Sacramento-based Composite Engineering Inc. agreed to pay the money to end allegations that it artificially inflated...
 
 

Headlines January 26, 2015

News: Two Marines identified in deadly California helo crash - Two Marine Corps officers killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise in the Southern California desert were remembered Jan. 25 as talented pilots. Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise - Ten people died Jan. 26 after a Greek air force F-16 jet crashed...
 
 

News Briefs January 26, 2015

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales. The Navy now wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys about 12 miles off...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>