The Secretary General stressed that transition to Afghanistan taking the security lead remains on track to be completed by the end of 2014: “An Afghanistan with Afghans fully in charge of their own security by the end of 2014. That goal remains unchanged. Our timetable remains unchanged. And our commitment to our partnership with the Afghan people beyond 2014, remains strong”.
There are reasons for optimism. Thanks to the support of ISAF, Afghan national security forces are becoming stronger and more capable in carrying out their tasks. Afghan security forces are also taking an increased leading role in operations.
Afghan national security forces are leading in areas where 50% of the Afghan population live. That leadership is to expand soon as transition implementation is being extended across the country.
“We have very good reasons to be confident in the future,” said Mr. Rasmussen. “Every day, Afghan security forces are becoming stronger and more capable,” he said, adding that “Afghan security forces participate in all ISAF special operations and increasingly they are also taking the lead. They have taken the lead in 40 percent of all conventional operations. They have the security lead for areas where 50 percent of Afghans live”,
As part of the transition, ISAF forces will gradually move into a more supportive role.
A detailed roadmap on the next phase of the transition is to be discussed at the NATO Chicago Summit in May. NATO’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan after 2014 will be part of that discussion by the NATO and ISAF Heads of State and Government.
“Our support will not end in 2014. In Chicago, we will agree how NATO will provide the training, assistance and support that your security forces need once transition is complete,” the Secretary General said.
“Let me be clear: NATO is here as Afghanistan’s partner for the long term. That is our message to the people of Afghanistan, to the enemies of Afghanistan and to Afghanistan’s neighbours.”
Mr. Rasmussen is meeting also with the Afghan Foreign Minister Rasoul and Dr. Ashraf Ghani, Chairman of the Afghan Transition Commission during his visit to Kabul.