Onus for zero option on Afghan govt: Pentagon
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Pentagon on Tuesday put the onus of zero option -- leaving no US troops in the war-torn country post 2014 -- on the administration of President Hamid Karzai.
The US wanted to have its troops on the ground in Afghanistan after 2014 so as to accomplish its mission, the Pentagon said, explaining the zero option would happen only if the Afghan government did not extends it an invitation in this regard.
“If we don't get the permission of the Afghan government in the form of a bilateral security agreement, then we're not going to be able to continue this job of working with ANSF," the acting assistant secretary of defense for Asia Pacific Security Affairs said.
Peter Lavoy told Pentagon reporters at a news conference: "And so then you end up with zero. The top Pentagon official said the ISAF surge over the past three years had put the Afghan government firmly in control of all major cities and provincial capitals and had driven the insurgency into the countryside.
“The tasks that we have today is to consolidate the gains that we've made, to support the ANSF, to pressure the remnants of Al Qaida, and to create sustainable security and stability, so that Afghanistan is never again used as a platform for international terrorists,” he said.
Although the Afghan forces have remarkable progress, Lavoy said the Pentagon envisioned it would take a period of time before they could adequately have sovereign ownership of all those skill sets, including well beyond the 2014 date.
“That's why, as we've looked at a number of options that we've prepared in this building, in concert with our interagency partners for interagency consideration, these have taken into account the train, advise and assist functions, in addition to our own US counterterrorism mission set going forward,” he said.
Lavoy said the Afghans were providing security for their own population and needed to have an understanding with them. They're not a foreign force. They're not a force liberating that population. They're protecting the population. So there needs to be understandings,” he said.
Ultimately, stability and peace would be achieved in Afghanistan by the deals being cut, either from the centre or in regions. “So I don't really see this as a particularly problematic trend. Frankly, it is a traditionally Afghanistan trend,” he concluded.
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