Narrative of leaving Afghanistan self-defeating: Carter
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The notion that the US is leaving Afghanistan by the end of next year is self-defeating, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday said, promising an American presence beyond 2016.
“The narrative that we're leaving Afghanistan is self-defeating.We're not.We can't, and to do so would not be to take advantage of the success,” Carter said at a luncheon in Washington.
Carter added the US was in the process of formulating options for 2016 and beyond, and make adjustments to the planned American presence based on current circumstances.
“It's not a question of whether, but how to continue the mission in Afghanistan. Last week, it became clear that our NATO allies feel the same way, as they told me.Many of my counterparts made a point of reaffirming their commitment, too,” he remarked.
“When I submit my 2017 budget, I will include critical financial support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to help them sustain their force levels of 352,000 troops in 2017 and beyond,” he continued.
Mainly because of the US army's work through Resolute Support, Afghan forces had proven themselves to be capable fighters, the secretary said.They performed admirably through two tense elections, clearing operations in Helmand and countering Taliban's spring offensive.
Taliban advances in parts of the country underscored the reality that it was a difficult fight, he noted.“We understand Afghanistan still needs assistance and Resolute Support is working closely with the ANDSF to ensure that they're prepared to set the conditions for Afghan-led stability in this vital region,” Carter said.
“No one can do this better than the army, which has learned a lot about counterterrorism operations, local forces training and related operational skills over the course of two wars, and is best equipped to establish a lasting platform in Afghanistan,” the secretary concluded.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.