ANSF casualty rates too high: Gen. Dunford
KABUL (PAN): Losing too many personnel in the battle against insurgents, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) could need up to five more years of western support before they could fight on their own, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan says.
In an interview with a British daily, published on Tuesday, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander said it was too early to say whether the Western military alliance decision on ending its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014 was accurate.
Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Guardian about the consistently high casualty rates among the Afghan army and police: "I view it as serious, and so do all the commanders. I'm not assuming that those casualties are sustainable."
Afghanistan's 350,000-strong security force still needed support in certain areas such as logistics, planning, intelligence-gathering, back-up from planes and helicopters in difficult operations, the general said.
Dunford believed western soldiers, who would train, assist and advise Afghan forces after an end to the combat mission, might need to remain in the country until 2018 to deal with different problems from the air force to intelligence.
"I look at Afghan security forces development as really kind of three to five years. That doesn't mean they can't do things today; I'm just talking about before they get to the standard where they may not need assistance and support any more."
He also hinted at a combat role for international service members beyond 2014, particularly in the form of close air support. "There are three words in the mission: train, advise and assist. In a NATO context 'assist' would include things like providing combat support, which is specifically the aviation piece..."
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