Obama's choice for next commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, General Joe Dunford, told the Senate on Thursday (Nov. 15) that he sees U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan long after 2014 when all U.S. troops are supposedly to depart.
Dunford told U.S. senators:“In my view our overall objective in Afghanistan after 2014 will be to sustain our hard-won security gains after 2014 so that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.
To accomplish this objective, the primary missions of the U.S. military in Afghanistan should be to (1) train, advise, and assist the ANSF; (2) provide support to civilian agencies, and (3) conduct counter-terrorism operations. This mission set will include force protection for our brave young men and women and, as available, the provision of in extremis support for our Afghan forces.”
As the enclosed video from a year ago shows, it was clear even back then that the U.S was not going to withdraw all troops after 2014. On July the 4th this year, a Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the U.S. came into force. The agreement was signed on May 4. The agreement set out a number of aspects of the continuing relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan for up to a decade after 2014.
There were no specifics about how many U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan and exactly what their role would be. But among the provisions were: Access to and use of Afghan facilities by US personnel beyond 2014
Granting the United States the possibility of keeping forces in Afghanistan after 2014 for purposes of training Afghan forces and targeting al-QaidaNegotiations began Thursday (Nov.15) on a bilateral security agreement (BSA) meant to now determine the role of U.S. troops that remain in Afghanistan, their number, and the terms and conditions of their stay. The Afghan chief negotiator, Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. Eklil Hakimi said:"The talks between the United States of America and Afghanistan on Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) formally began here in Kabul today,." James Warlick, Deputy Special Representative of U.S. on Afghanistan and Pakistan, leads the U.S. team. He said:"The documents to provide legal authorities for United States armed forces and our civilian components to continue presence in Afghanistan with the full approval of the government of Afghanistan."
We will not know for some time exactly how many troops will be staying or what exactly their role will be but it certainly will go beyond training to helping to fight the war on terror and that will no doubt include operations against the Taliban and perhaps operations against targets in Pakistan even though the Afghan government may object to that. During the election campaign,in debate, Biden said:“We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It’s their responsibility, not America’s.” Biden should read the terms of the Strategic Partnership and while he is at it he might find out about the BSA negotiations that are ongoing now.
So far Karzai has maintained that any U.S. military personnel who stay in Afghanistan should be subject to prosecution in local courts. However, the U.S. has always taken the position that any crimes committed by U.S. troops must be tried in the U.S. Afghans were infuriated when Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who allegedly killed 16 Afghans, was whisked off to the U.S. for trial. Failure to solve this issue in Iraq, resulted in most U.S. troops being withdrawn from Iraq when the Status of Forces agreement expired.
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