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2014 is ‘Aspirational Goal’ for Security Turnover to Afghans

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2010 – The end of 2014 is the “aspirational goal” for turning all security responsibility over to the Afghan government and American officials expect this goal will be blessed at this weekend’s NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, a senior defense official said today.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said by the end of 2014 –- effectively 2015 –- Afghan security forces should have the security lead over the preponderance of the country.

However, that goal is dependent on conditions on the ground, Morrell said, and it does not necessarily mean that Afghan forces will be in the lead in every part of the country.

“It [also] does not mean that all U.S. or coalition forces would necessarily be gone by that date,” he said.

Coalition forces may be in country in smaller numbers to assist the Afghans as they assume lead responsibility for the security of their country, Morrell said. Coalition forces may be helping in logistics, supplying training and in mentoring senior-level officers and NCOs.

The idea is the gradual transition will begin in July 2012, fully in compliance with President Barack Obama’s announced goal. This is already happening.

“We talked … about how there were six out of 10 security forces in the Hamkari operations in Kandahar were Afghans,” Morrell said. “I think that number has since risen to seven out of 10.”

There are 100,000 more Afghan security forces now than there were in November 2009, Morrell said, noting these numbers and the Afghan army and police capabilities will continue to grow in the months and years ahead.

Morrell also emphasized that while the Afghan forces have grown, the coalition has trained 11,000 Afghan civil servants since February.

“The surge was meant for two things: It was meant to reverse the momentum of the Taliban and it was meant to buy time to develop the size and the capability of the ANSF,” he said. “We’ve had great success on that front, but we're also simultaneously clearly trying to develop the civilian capacity of the Afghan government. And I think that’s a telling figure, that 11,000 Afghans have been trained this year.”

Training Afghan forces is the exit strategy for the coalition, so clearly having enough trainers is vitally important.

“As much success as we’ve had over the past year in growing and developing the Afghan national security forces, there is a lot more work to be done,” Morrell said. “And the way this system is developed, we are going to need many more trainers, hundreds more trainers, very soon.”


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