2014 Afghanistan Pullout Relies on US Training Efforts

Coalition forces in Afghanistan are gearing up for their withdrawal, slated to begin in July. The gradual troop pullout has set the clock ticking for Afghan security forces. When the full pullout date arrives in 2014; fighting the Taliban and providing security for the country will be in their hands.

The commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David Petraeus, said he is confident Afghan forces are up to the challenge, yet each step now is critical to the mission’s success. He outlined the situation to the House Armed Services Committee on March 16, according to the military’s American Forces Press Service (AFPS).

Experts typically agree that passing the bar to Afghan forces by 2014 is feasible, yet there are issues to be overcome.

“My main concern is that we’re going to declare victory and get out,” said Barry Searle, American Legion director of National Security and Foreign Relations, in a phone interview.

In order for operations to succeed in Afghanistan, the local military, police, and intelligence groups—broadly categorized as Afghan security forces—will need to hold their own. The Afghan people will also need to recognize the Afghan government for it to be stable, which ties into how secure they feel under the security forces.

Searle oversaw training of Afghan forces from 2007 to 2008 when he was the commander of Afghanistan’s Regional Coalition Assistance group East, with the embedded training teams.

During his work with Afghan forces, Searle said there were some units that were mature and ready, yet there were others—particularly in the police force—which still had a ways to go.

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