WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2015 —
As the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan ebbs, Afghan security force operations continue to evolve as a regional partner, the Operation Resolute Support commander said yesterday at the Brookings Institute Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.
Army Gen. John F. Campbell expressed optimism with the ability of the Afghan security forces to finesse systems and processes and build a sustainable Afghan army and police in coming years.
“We have done a great job, both from both a conventional perspective and our special operating forces, and from the Afghan security forces … to make sure that we haven’t had another 9/11,” Campbell said.
Since January, despite "a very tough fighting season for all of Afghanistan," American fatalities have been in the single digits, the general reported.
Campbell, now about a year into his third deployment in the region, said his dual-hatted role to train, advise and assist with Afghan security forces and NATO have afforded him a unique perspective to help address challenges related to close air support, intelligence, planning and logistics with special operations forces.
“I see [the Afghans] continue to progress and continue to be very resilient,” Campbell said. “The civilian casualties are caused by the Taliban and other insurgents out there -- and we can’t ever forget that sacrifice from the Afghan people.”
Since 2001, U.S. and coalition forces have worked with the Afghan government to squelch insurgents’ safe havens, he said.
“We have to continue to build the capacity of the Afghan security forces in the region,” Campbell explained. He also praised Afghan President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani, calling him a commander in chief committed to both the international community and the Afghan security forces.
“It really is about solidifying the last 14 years of gains that they’ve made to ensure we have a stable Afghanistan for Central Asia, and that … cuts down on the opportunities for insurgents to plan something,” the general said.
According to Campbell, cross-pillar coordination among the Afghan police, army, and intelligence forces -- which he deemed especially effective in the northern regions of Afghanistan -- is formidable.
“There’s no way that the Taliban, even despite this very tough fighting season, even despite the casualties … can overthrow the Afghan government -- that’s not going to happen,” he said.
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