U.S. Troops Advise Afghan Forces as Drawdown Proceeds
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 13, 2013 Brigade advisory teams will continue to train and advise their Afghan counterparts as American forces drawdown as part of President Barack Obama’s directive to conclude U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Army Maj. Gen. Robert B. Abrams told Pentagon reporters today.
Via satellite from Afghanistan, Abrams, commander of Regional Command-South, told reporters his command is providing advisors for 83 Afghan army battalions and district chiefs of police in southern Afghanistan to ensure the drawdown stays on track.
“We are on the glide path to meet our force-manning levels, in accordance with the president’s directive,” Abrams said. “As [Afghan] units progress into an ‘independent with advisory’ status that presents the option for us to consider ‘thinning up’ [U.S. forces} … off of those respective units.”
U.S. forces use the commander’s update assessment tool to evaluate Afghan units’ readiness and gauge their shift from requiring day-to-day, man-to-man or level 1 contact to periodic training and advising over time, or level 2 contact.
“We … anticipate … these units will be holistically across the brigade independent with advisors and we will be able to thin up,” Abrams said. “And that will have an impact on reducing our overall number of forces here.”
The ratings, Abrams said, are not solely based on an Afghan unit’s ability to conduct operations, but also on the performance, manning, training, and equipping of the units.
Meanwhile, as the drawdown proceeds, Abrams said, “many of our sustainment units … are going to be absolutely essential as we close or transfer our bases [and] retrograde our equipment back here to Kandahar Airfield.”
Commensurate with U.S. troop strength, he added, there will be a gentle reduction across enablers such as explosive ordnance disposal, route clearance and aviation teams, among others.
“We’ll maintain capability, preserve options for commanders, but it will be an overall reduction of our force over time,” the general said.