Exit plan means more focus on Afghan forces
KABUL (Pajhwok): US Ambassador James Cunningham on Tuesday said President Barack Obama’s exit plan from Afghanistan did not mean the so-called zero option, but to focus more on building the capacity of Afghan forces.
Obama last week announced he plans to keep 9800 troops in Afghanistan before a full withdrawal by the end of 2016 if the Afghan government signs the bilateral security agreement
Cunningham told reporters in Kabul the motive behind Obama’s decision was to successfully complete the transition process and support and improve the capacity Afghan forces to enable them to provide security to their countrymen on their own.
He said the US president’s decision was not based on any problem with the Afghan government, adding US troops, who were no more required to stay in Afghanistan, had been included in the drawdown plan.
Unveiling his plan to end America's longest war 15 years after the September 11 attacks, Obama confirmed that the 32,000-strong US deployment in Afghanistan would be scaled back to around 9,800 by the start of 2015.
Those forces would be halved by the end of 2015 before eventually being scaled back to a normal embassy presence with a security assistance component by the end of 2016.
“We're finishing the job we started,” Obama said, adding US combat operations would draw to a close at the end of 2014, meaning US troops would no longer patrol Afghan cities, towns or valleys from next year.
The drawdown relies on Afghanistan signing a long-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) laying out the terms and conditions of the US military presence in the country after this year.
“Foreign forces are not leaving. The transition process will continue for years until Afghan forces take the overall security responsibility to allow the US troops gradually decrease to a normal stage, which is in interest of both the countries.” Ambassador Cunningham said.
He said the security transition actually meant gradually building the capacity of Afghan forces and ensuring their success.
The envoy said the Afghan forces were already in the lead in security operations and they had been successful and their ability had improved.
Cunningham said more than half a million US troops and civilians served in Afghanistan working in different sectors to ensure the gains were preserved.
“I am sure we will be more successful in future security partnership, which will depend on the commitment and achievements by the next government and the security forces. We know what to do and how to do.”
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.