Dunford: Didn't seek complete pullout
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan on Thursday told lawmakers that military leaders had not sought complete withdrawal of American forces from the country by 2017, as announced by President Barack Obama.
Acknowledging differences between the White House and the Pentagon on this issue, Gen. Joseph Dunford said: "I think all of us in uniform, including the Afghans, would have preferred for that to be a bit more ambiguous.”
Dunford told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing for Marine Corps Commandant: “There’s no doubt that the Afghan forces of today are not capable of conducting the operations we’re conducting today … not if you project forward the threat as it exists today.”
He said the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) would continue to need help with sustainment, logistics, paying troops and other jobs with which the US helps or which it provides. That was why American troops must remain past the end of the year, Dunford argued.
At the same time, he praised the increase in capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces. “In 2002, there were no effective Afghan security forces,” he said. “There is today an army and a police force of over 352,000, as well as another 30,000 Afghan local police that are capable of providing security to the Afghan people,” he said.
Afghan forces gave the Afghan people the security needed to conduct elections in April and June, he noted. That security has also provided other signs of progress in the nation, he said. “We have, today, over 8 million children in school -- 2 million of those, young girls,” Dunford said.
“The Afghan people actually have hope and confidence in the future that didn’t exist under the oppression and the tyranny of the Taliban in 2001,” he said.
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