Afghan Mission in Danger Without BSA

The progress made to date with Afghan security forces will “not be sustainable” without a follow on support mission, said Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top US official in Afghanistan. Speaking during a March 12 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dunford recommended a residual presence of 8,000 to 12,000 US and allied forces to continue assisting the Afghans to develop key special operations, ISR, logistical capabilities, and air mobility. Although he noted that current force levels are appropriate, he acknowledged the Obama Administration is still debating the post-2014 numbers. The longer the US goes without a bilateral security agreement, which would allow US troops to continue operating in an advise and assist role after combat operations end this year, the more danger will build for an “orderly withdrawal” of forces. Dunford warned that once September arrives, if there is no BSA in place, the risk to the remaining NATO forces in country will begin to increase due to the number of tasks needing completion by the end of the year.