The Afghan Army and police forces should be able to secure most of Afghanistan by 2011, allowing international forces to start withdrawing, according to the U.S. commander of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, General Dan McNeill.”By about 2011, there is going to be some pretty good capacity in the Afghan National Army,” he said in an interview Sunday in the Kabul headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force.
“It will take them a few more years to get their air transport and air support platforms on line, but they should be covering a lot of battle space by some time in 2011, in my view,” he said.
By then, barring any cataclysm, the countries contributing troops to the international force could look at whether such a large international force was still desirable, he said. “I think you begin to get to a juncture and say, ‘Probably not; maybe we should be starting to change the way this force works,’ ” he said.
The issue has been important to the discussion within NATO about its mission in Afghanistan.
Some members of NATO, which has taken over much of the security for the country, have been reluctant to send troops, or to allow their troops to operate in areas where the insurgency is active.
The Taliban, or what’s left of it, has resorted to the use of IEDs and has for the most part, been pushed back across the border into Pakistan. The bulk of the work has been shouldered by the U.S. Army. On the other hand, if the NATO forces don’t want to venture into harm’s way, they’d better make sure the Afghans are fully capable to take over.