Defense Department Lauds Transfer in Afghanistan as Milestone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2006 The Defense Department issued a statement calling today’s transfer of command for international military security operations in eastern Afghanistan to the NATO Security Assistance an important milestone in the progress of improving security and stability in Afghanistan.
The transfer of command responsibility from a U.S.-led coalition that effectively makes NATO-ISAF responsible for security operations throughout the country “is yet another step toward a brighter future for the people of Afghanistan,” DoD noted in its release.
It represents the latest step in a transition that began two years ago when NATO-ISAF took responsibility for security in the northern part of Afghanistan in the alliance’s first mission outside the northern Atlantic area.
“The transfer today signifies continued progress and commitment,” the DoD release noted. It points to the integration of the Afghan National Army into coalition combat operations, resulting in increased capability, as a major factor in making the transition possible.
“The United States remains committed to the future of Afghanistan and the success of this NATO operation,” the statement notes.
“We will continue to lead the counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, train and equip the Afghan national security forces and assist with reconstruction.” About 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be assigned to this mission, defense officials said.
In addition, the United States has committed about 12,000 of its troops in Afghanistan to the NATO-ISAF mission. “Our commitment to the alliance is also evident as the United States will continue to provide military troops and capability to the NATO/ISAF mission as ISAF's largest troop contributor, and we welcome further international participation,” the DoD release notes.
The release notes solid progress already made in Afghanistan, “most notably, the first free national elections in Afghanistan last year, and improvements in security and reconstruction.”
As this progress continues, continued international support will be critical, it said. “As we work through current security challenges, the international community's increased support for reforming the Afghan police, developing a judicial system and combating the narcotics problem is crucial for long-term success in Afghanistan.”
Today’s milestone transfer of authority serves as a reminder “of the sacrifices proud professionals from many nations have made for the people of Afghanistan and our collective security,” the release noted.
“The NATO alliance's successful record in Afghanistan speaks volumes about the future of Afghanistan,” it said. “Tested militarily and diplomatically, nations have continued to answer by supporting free elections, expanding the mission and supporting reconstruction and redevelopment in Afghanistan.”