No shift in Afghan strategy: Pentagon
WASHINGTON (PAN): Categorically ruling out any change in its Afghan strategy, the Pentagon on Thursday said its main focus remained strengthening Afghan security forces to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for insurgents.
Amid reports in a section of US newspaper that the Obama Administration is seeking a shift in its strategy in the country, the Pentagon said drawdown from Afghanistan between now and 2014 would be steady and conditions based.
“The drawdown between now and 2014 would be at a steady pace, it would be conditions based and that remains the trajectory for our effort as we continue to fight this war with Afghan and NATO partners,” Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters.
“The role of the US military has not shifted or changed. The only firm plans that we have at this point is to drawdown some of the surge forces by the end of this year and additional tranche of surge forces by summer of next year,” Little said.
At the same time, the Pentagon press secretary asserted while the military drawdown would occur by the end of 2014, a strong partnership with Afghanistan would not end by the end of 2014. “It will be a long term partnership, the contours of which are still be worked through,” he said.
Navy Captain John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, told reporters that the focus of US and its allies in Afghanistan right now is on accomplishing the strategy that they have all set for.
“This is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven ever again and to continue to take the fight to Al Qaeda and their allies. That’s the focus right now,” he said. The 2014 transition, he said, is all about a confident and capable Afghan security forces.
“That’s what we are working towards. There is a lot of component to that including training,” he said. The US continues to believe that the reconciliation process, a vital part of the peace effort, is going to be Afghan-led, that the Pakistanis should have a role.
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