Taliban can't defeat Afghan security forces: Campbell
At the maximum, the Taliban and allied insurgent organisations could conduct terrorist strikes, Gen. John Campbell, head of US and NATO forces, said in his address to Brookings Institute.
He acknowledged Afghan forces, in charge of more than 95 percent of counter-terrorism operations, had been experiencing a high level of casualties.
But the brave and young Afghan forces has successfully managed to keep the Taliban at bay and not letting them gain control over districts or towns as was the case earlier. However, he expressed concern over the high rate of absentees or soldiers leaving the forces and argued the need to take steps to retain soldiers in their armed forces.
They just need the right leadership to stay in the army. There is no question about their patriotism, he said. “We are also trying to make them accountable,” he said in response to a question on high casualty rate and retention.
The US forces, which now number around 10,000, is mostly engaged in advising and training the Afghan security forces. For the long haul, the focus needs to be on aviation, intelligence, maintenance and sustenance, he said.
Campbell said at the end of this fighting session, he would present his assessment about the future of US presence in Afghanistan to the American leadership.
Praising the national unity government leaders, he said they complemented each others, working in close association for the safety, security, development and peace of the country. “They understand the national unity government is the way to go.”
Applauding President Ashraf Ghani for his peace initiatives, Campbell said reaching out to Pakistan was yielding results, as reflected in the peace talks in Murree. The death of Mullah Omar, he felt, would divide the Taliban. While some would join the peace process, others might join the IS.
When asked if the US could trust Pakistan, Campbell said there was an opportunity for both Afghanistan and Pakistan to move forward to facilitate the peace process.
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