NATO Allies: Afghan Forces Will Take Security Control in 2013
By MacKenzie C. Babb
IIP Staff Writer
May 21 2012
President Obama and leaders of the United States’ NATO allies have formally agreed to transfer security responsibility across Afghanistan to Afghan forces in 2013, a significant step toward transition as U.S. and international forces prepare to end their combat mission in the country in 2014.
“Two years ago, in Lisbon, our nations agreed on a framework for transition in Afghanistan that would allow us to responsibly wind down the war,” Obama said May 21 at the NATO summit in his hometown of Chicago.
He said that since the NATO partners committed to the power transfer plan, which put Afghan forces in the lead for security in select provinces starting in 2011 and set the end of 2014 as the conclusion of international combat operations, significant progress has been made.
“Our forces broke the Taliban’s momentum,” Obama said. “More Afghans are reclaiming their communities. Afghan security forces have grown stronger, and the transition that we agreed to in Lisbon is well under way.”
He welcomed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent announcement that additional areas are now involved in the security transfer, which means that 75 percent of the Afghan people will live in places where Afghan forces are moving into the lead.
Obama said the NATO agreement to transition Afghan forces to take the lead for security and combat operations across the whole of Afghanistan by mid-2013 will allow international forces to move to a supporting role.
“This will be another step toward Afghans taking full lead for their security as agreed to by 2014,” when the international combat mission will end.
“Today is also an opportunity to ensure our hard-won progress is preserved,” Obama said. He said the Strategic Partnership Agreement that he and Karzai recently signed in Kabul “ensures that as Afghans stand up, they will not stand alone.”
General John Allen, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF), said during a telephone briefing May 20 that international forces will support, train and equip Afghan forces as they move into the security lead during the coming months. While combat operations will continue in Afghanistan through the remainder of the ISAF mission at the end of 2014, Allen said, they will be led largely by Afghan forces.
ISAF countries reaffirmed their “enduring commitment to Afghan security beyond 2014” in a May 21 declaration.
“Our nations and the world have a vital interest in the success of this mission,” Obama said. “I am confident … that we can advance that goal today and responsibly bring this war to the end.”