Posts Tagged Afghan National Army
NATO has fight on its hands in Afghanistan: Panetta
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) testifies next to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, (C) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey (L), at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington May 23, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron
(Reuters) – NATO forces still have a fight on their hands in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has displayed resilience although its fighters have not regained territory they lost during the decade-long war, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Sunday.
Panetta said plans for foreign troops to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces starting in mid-2013 were on track and necessary to ensure that the Taliban, which governed Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion, is kept at bay.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who ordered a surge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2009, has outlined plans to withdraw foreign combat forces from there by the end of 2014 and to take on a supportive role for the Afghan army.
Afghanistan security forced have grown to around 330,000 but still lack capabilities in intelligence, air power and logistics. At the same time, a spate of attacks against foreign troops this year by Afghans in military uniforms have raised questions about their loyalty to the government and whether some are under the influence of the Taliban.
“The world needs to know that we still have a fight on our hands,” Panetta told ABC’s “This Week” program. “We’re still dealing with the Taliban. Although they’ve been weakened, they are resilient.”
The defense secretary said the Taliban has been unable to conduct any kind of organized attack to reclaim territory lost to NATO and Afghan forces, adding: “We’ve seen levels of violence going down. We’ve seen an Afghan army that is much more capable at providing security.”
The White House, looking toward the November presidential election, is keen to dispel notions that Obama is rushing for the exits in Afghanistan, at a time when public support for the war is plummeting.
The broad concern, however, is that the Taliban is staying out of harm’s way and will resurface quickly once the bulk of foreign troops have left.
“Have you ever heard the word ‘victory’ come through the lips of this president, because we’re always talking about withdrawal, withdrawal, withdrawal,” Senator John McCain, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Republican candidate for president in 2008 who lost to Obama, told Fox News Sunday.
“The Taliban believes we are leaving” after Obama’s announcements of a withdrawal schedule, McCain said.
“The president has overridden the recommendation of his military commanders who he has put in their positions, and the president has increased the risk every time.”
Panetta said there continues to be concerns about the Taliban operating from safe havens inPakistan. He said U.S. relations with Pakistan were “complicated”.
“This has been one of the most complicated relationships that we’ve had, working with Pakistan. You know, we have to continue to work at it. It is important. This is a country that has – that has nuclear weapons,” Panetta said.
“So our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face,” Panetta added.
Panetta said it was “so disturbing” that the Pakistani government sentenced a doctor to 33 years in prison on treason charges for helping the CIA track down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Dr. Shakil Afridi “was not working against Pakistan. He was working against al Qaeda. And I hope that ultimately Pakistan understands that,” he said. “Because what they have done here, I think, you know, does not help in the effort to try to re-establish a relationship between the United States and Pakistan.”
- Panetta: US Plans to End War in Afghanistan ‘On Track’ (blogs.voanews.com)
- NATO Formally Agrees to Transition on Afghan Security – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Panetta defends Afghan strategy following Romney jabs (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Panetta Defends Obama Against Romney’s Afghanistan Charges (huffingtonpost.com)
- At NATO summit, warm welcome for most leaders, but not Pakistan’s – chicagotribune.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama Administration Defends Afghanistan Withdrawal Timeline (voanews.com)
- US troops to still face Afghan combat in 2013 – MiamiHerald.com (miamiherald.com)
- Eight Afghan civilians said killed in NATO airstrike (jhaines6.wordpress.com)
- Afghan family killed by Nato air strike (guardian.co.uk)
- US ‘on right track in Afghanistan’ (news.ninemsn.com.au)
NATO Secretary General ‘Optimistic’ on Funding for Afghan Security Forces – Alexandra Jaffe – NationalJournal.com
NATO Secretary General ‘Optimistic’ on Funding for Afghan Security Forces
Updated: May 20, 2012 | 11:05 a.m.
May 20, 2012 | 10:19 a.m.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen weighed in on one of the biggest issues likely to be addressed at this weekend’s NATO summit in Chicago, saying on Sunday that he is “optimistic” about the international commitment to fund the Afghan forces that will take over security after the U.S. leaves the country in 2014.
“I am optimistic about fundraising for the Afghan security forces because, at the end of the day, it is less expensive to finance the Afghan security forces to do the combat than to deploy our own troops,” he said on CNN’s.
According to the , the forces currently cost about $6 billion a year, a price paid by the U.S. and other NATO-member nations. After the U.S. exits the country, the cost is expected to drop to $4 billion, and NATO member states are discussing how to address those costs at this weekend’s summit.
Rasmussen said funding the Afghan security forces was “a responsibility for the whole international community,” and that while NATO and ISAF countries will contribute, “countries in general in the international community have a responsibility and also have an interest in insuring that the Afghan security forces maintain a capability to take full responsibility for security in Afghanistan after 2014.”
He also defended NATO’s decision not to get involved in Syria while choosing to engage in Libya, arguing that the circumstances were completely different in the two nations.
“We took responsibility for the operation in Libya to protect the civilian population, because we had a clear mandate from the United Nations, and we got clear support from a number of countries in the region. None of these conditions are fulfilled when it comes to Syria,” he said.
- NATO chief sees financial aid for Afghan forces (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- NATO Summit Opens In Chicago (rferl.org)
- NATO Secretary General Speaks to Young Leaders (chicagotalks.org)
- NATO Secretary General On Afghan Transition Announcement – Statement (eurasiareview.com)
- NATO Coalition Already Fracturing Over Afghanistan (chicago.cbslocal.com)
- Afghanistan to get centre-stage at NATO summit (cbc.ca)
- UK force ‘to stay in Afghanistan’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Afghanistan to get centre-stage at NATO summit (cbc.ca)
- Obama tries NATO fix for Afghanistan security (smh.com.au)
- Ready or not, Afghan security transfer accelerating – CNN (articles.cnn.com)
U.S. seeks more money for Afghan force
By Karen DeYoung, Published: March 27
The Obama administration has made an urgent appeal for international donors to pledge more money to pay for Afghanistan’s security forces after the departure of U.S. and coalition combat troops at the end of 2014.
In formal diplomatic demarches sent to 64 countries this month, and in direct appeals by President Obama and top national security aides, the administration has outlined a $4.1 billion annual budget for the Afghan army and police, according to U.S. and foreign officials.
Speaking along side British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama says the United States, Britain and their NATO allies are committed to shifting to a support role in Afghanistan in 2013.
At least $1.3 billion would come from existing foreign donors, triple the amount they currently spend. The Afghan government would contribute $500 million, and the United States would pay the rest.
The request for indefinite commitments comes as the United States and its partners in Afghanistan are under pressure to cut costs and end an increasingly unpopular war.
The administration hopes to secure the pledges before a NATO summit in Chicagoin May. So far, however, there have been no specific replies to the funding appeals, an administration official said.
“We’ve gotten a lot of questions and a lot of ‘We’re thinking about it,’ ” the official said.
U.S. officials and diplomats from Asian, European and Arab countries that received the appeal discussed the matter only on the condition of anonymity.
A diplomat from a close U.S. ally said his country shares the “objective” of maintaining a strong Afghan security force. “But,” the diplomat said, “we have a very restricted budget and a very severe fiscal situation.”
An Arab diplomat said his government wants more information on how the Obama administration arrived at its calculations, how much others will contribute and how the money will be administered within corruption-plagued Afghanistan. But, he said, “we’ll probably end up paying.”
Still others, particularly in Europe, pointed out that although U.S. money may flow more freely from the Pentagon than from the State Department, the opposite is true in their countries. Some said they will find it easier to pledge development funding for Afghanistan — a separate appeal for post-2014 money that will be made in July at an international conference in Tokyo — than to provide more military spending.
In December, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the international community that after 2014, his country will need at least $10 billion annually in combined security and development assistance until 2025. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is about $17 billion.
The United States spent about $12 billion last year, 95 percent of the total cost, to train and equip Afghanistan’s army and police. Since 2009, police salaries have been paid from a $5 billion development assistance fund established by Japan that will expire at the end of 2014.
The combined Afghan force is expected to reach a target strength of 352,000 in October. U.S. military officials have estimated that the force’s expenditure could be cut in half after this year once the target number is reached. The post-2014 budget also anticipates additional savings from a reduction in the size of the force of up to one-third by 2017, a projection that assumes successful reconciliation with the Taliban.
“I think as people consider the past and how to protect the past into the future, they’ll make the contribution, and we will have both a sufficient and sustainable” Afghan force, Marc Grossman, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said last week during a fundraising tour in Europe.
The endgame envisioned for the war calls for a gradual transition of security control from foreign to Afghan troops throughout the country by some point next year, with all coalition combat forces to withdraw by Dec. 31, 2014. The administration’s main argument is that pledging more money now would ensure a smooth withdrawal and less future spending.
In formal notes sent to foreign capitals on March 10, the United States suggested pledges from individual countries in yearly amounts ranging from $500,000 to $250 million.
“I would say that the chances of setbacks goes up” with insufficient funding, Grossman said, “and goes down” with a robust and fully funded Afghan force.
The Afghan police, and to a lesser degree the army, have been much maligned in recent years as inept and corrupt. But as the Obama administration seeks more support for the force that is its ticket to exit the war, it has begun a steady drumbeat of praise for the Afghans’ improvements and achievements.
That effort has been undercut in recent weeks by a spate of attacks in which 16 NATO service members, including nine Americans, have been killed by Afghan troops or police officers. It is unclear whether the most recent attacks were in response to the shooting deaths of 17 Afghan civilians this month, apparently at the hands of a U.S. soldier.
In a Pentagon briefing Monday, Gen. John Allen, commander of the U.S.-led coalition, played down the incidents as “a characteristic of counterinsurgencies that we’ve experienced before,” in Vietnam and Iraq, and blamed them on enemy efforts “to disrupt both the counterinsurgency operations, but also disrupt the integrity of the indigenous forces.”
Although he acknowledged in congressional testimony his preference for a slow U.S. departure over the next two years and described tough fighting ahead, Allen expressed confidence that the Afghan force would be capable of taking over.
In an account he repeated at hearings in the Senate and the House, he spoke of a recent visit with Marines serving with Afghan forces in the southwestern province of Helmand as evidence of the close relationship between U.S. and Afghan troops.
With violence against Americans increasing across the country, he said, a young Marine told him that Afghan troops had offered to patrol “outside the wire for a couple of days” to protect their U.S. comrades.
“This one statement, spoken by a young Marine,” Allen said, “conveys the power of this brotherhood in arms forged in battle over the years. It speaks to the trust that we have built with the Afghans. . . . We know there is much hard and deadly work yet to be done, but the progress is real, and, importantly, it’s sustainable.”
- Support for Afghan War Falls in U.S., Poll Finds – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Another Afghan militant group halts talks with U.S. (ctv.ca)
- Militant faction breaks off talks with US, Afghans (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Pakistan army chief, U.S. commanders to meet to discuss Nov. airstrikes (washingtontimes.com)
- Pakistan chief to meet US commanders over strikes- NATO chief says Afghan forces will soon take lead (foxnews.com)
- NATO: Afghans to take lead in majority of country (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Afghan army says Taliban infiltration very sophisticated (alhittin.com)
- Pakistan, U.S. resume dialogue strained by airstrikes (ctv.ca)
- Afghan Security Forces Responsible For One-Third Of U.S. Troop Deaths In 2012 (thinkprogress.org)
- NATO: Afghans to Take Lead in Majority of Country (abcnews.go.com)