Post-2014 mission to be smaller: NATO
BRUSSELS (PAN): The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in post-2014 Afghanistan would be much smaller in size, NATO said on Friday, renewing its long-term commitment to the war-torn country.
“Today, we have reinforced our commitment on the way forward for our new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan Security Forces after 2014,” the alliance Secretary-General, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
At the end of a meeting held by Defence Ministers from 50 ISAF contributing nations, the Afghan Defence Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, the new Commander of ISAF Gen. Dunford, and representatives from the European Union and the United Nations, Mr.Fogh Rasmussen said at a press conference that the NATO-led post-2014 mission would be significantly smaller in size.
He said they envisioned “a regional approach that would be more limited than the current ISAF mission,” assuring Afghans of NATO’s support well beyond the end of security transition.
“Of course security is only one part of the challenge. It is just as important to build good governance and reinforce democracy and human rights,” he said, stressing it was for the Afghans “to shape their country’s future.”
The Afghan forces, which were leading security operations in Kabul only two years ago, are presently “taking the lead in areas where 87 percent of the population live,” Mr. Fogh Rasmussen pointed out. In a few months, he said, they “will start assuming the lead for security of 100% of Afghans.”
While growing in capabilities, confidence and training, their number rose by 75,000 last year, the official said. Later this year, they would reach what he called a milestone -- moving into the lead throughout Afghanistan.
The meeting mulled over a delay in implementing plans for slashing the strength of the 352,000-strong Afghan security force by a third after 2015. On Thursday, 21 February, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said “no final decisions have been made. But I can confirm that it's one of the ideas that is being considered. I feel confident that we will be able to finance Afghan security forces of that size.”
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