Afghanistan at ‘critical juncture’: Gen. Campbell
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): In the backdrop of a sudden upsurge in violence in certain parts of the country, a top American general on Thursday told lawmakers that Afghanistan was at a critical moment in its history.
“An upsurge in insurgent violence in Helmand and Kunduz shows that Afghanistan is at a critical moment in their history,” General John Campbell, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing.
Campbell said US President Barack Obama was well aware of the tenuous security situation. “My role is to provide him my best military advice, based upon my assessment of conditions on the ground, weighed against the risk both to the force and to the mission,” he said.
The top American general told members of the House Armed Services Committee that he has offered his chain of command several options for a future lay down in 2016 and beyond.
“It was envisioned in mid-2014 that we would transition to a normalized embassy presence by January of 2017. That remains our planning assumption,” he said.
“Since that time, much has changed. We've seen the rise of Daesh or ISIL, an increased Al Qaida presence in Afghanistan due to Pakistan military operations, and now we have a strong partner in President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah,” he said.
“And as a result, I put forward recommendations to adjust to this new environment, while addressing our core missions of train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces, and to conduct counterterrorism operations to protect the homeland,” the general said.
Campbell said the challenges were still significant. “In an extremely tough fight, the Afghan security forces continue to hold. They remain resilient and they haven't fractured,” he added.
“Force support, led by an engaged commander in chief in President Ghani, embraced by the Afghan people, and backstopped by our military advisers, our resources and our enablers, the Afghan security force's future and Afghanistan's prospects for an eventual peace still remain promising,” he said.
But he warned: “If we fail in this worthwhile mission, Afghanistan will once again become a sanctuary for Al Qaida and other terrorists bent on attacking our interests and citizens abroad and at home.”
“Likewise, if we withdraw from Afghanistan, the security vacuum will arise and other extremist networks such as Daesh could rapidly expand and sow unrest throughout Central and South Asia and potentially target our homeland.”
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