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Election Day ‘Historic’ for Afghanistan, Official Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 – With International Security Assistance Force support available, but largely unneeded, millions of Afghan citizens voted April 5 under the umbrella of protection provided by Afghan security forces, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Afghan Army Lt. Col. Sultani, left, and Maj. Safi display the blue ink on their fingers on Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan's Laghman province, April 6, 2014. The blue ink signifies that Sultani and Safi voted in the Afghan presidential election the day before. U.S. soldiers assigned to the International Security Assistance Force assisted Afghan forces during the election. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. George Huley

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“As far as I'm concerned, April 5, 2014, is an historic day in Afghanistan. … This was a great accomplishment, [and] it's a testament to how far the Afghan national security forces have come,” Warren said.

ISAF troops served in an advisory capacity and made available certain types of air support and medical evacuation capabilities, the colonel said, but those capabilities went largely unused. The elections were a great success for the Afghan security forces, he added.

“It certainly should give confidence to all of Afghanistan that their national security forces are capable, they're trained, and they are willing to do what needs to be done to keep Afghans safe,” Warren said.

“We are very proud of them,” he added. “And we're very proud of the millions of Afghan citizens who chose to have their voices heard.”

Once the ballots are counted, Afghanistan’s new president will have to decide whether to sign the bilateral security agreement negotiated between the United States and Afghanistan. The Defense Department looks forward to working with a willing partner on decisions regarding the post-2014 presence of American forces, the colonel said.

“We will encourage … any government leaders that emerge from this election process to quickly engage with us [and] sign this bilateral security agreement promptly, so that we can move into planning for post-2014,” Warren said.

(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter @rouloafps)

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