British Forces News: 2014 ‘waypoint’ in Afghanistan campaign but not pull-out
Britain’s most senior commander in Afghanistan says that the shape of the international force after combat troops leave in 2014 should become clear this autumn.
Lieutenant General James Bucknall, the International Security Force ISAF’s Deputy Commander, says it will not be a pullout. He says a significant international presence is likely for the foreseeable future.
“It’s absolutely essential that 2014 is viewed not as an end date for this campaign but as a way point in it. And at that way point all that simply happens is that the Afghan National Security Forces take the lead and ISAF takes a back seat and an advisory role,” he told Forces News.
It is expected that a new-look international force for training and mentoring in Afghanistan after 2014 will be revealed this autumn. General Bucknall says Britain and NATO will be key players and he is confident Afghans will be ready to run their country’s security.
He said: “I could point to you numerous examples of really good actions by Afghan Army, Afghan police every single day and so there is absolutely no reason why by the end of 2014 the Afghan security Forces will not be capable of taking the lead.”
ISAF’s deputy commander predicts that even this year the nearly 300,000 strong Afghan Security Forces will end up responsible for half the population. He says assassinations and violence are down and the insurgents are under pressure.
General Bucknall still warns of more hard fighting to come but believes that by 2014 the insurgency can be reduced to something Afghan forces can deal with.