Security Transition in Afghanistan Accelerated

Afghan security forces will take the lead for security across all of Afghanistan from NATO forces sooner than originally planned, assuming that role this spring instead of in mid-year, announced President Obama. “Because of the progress that’s been made by our troops, because of the progress that’s been made in terms of Afghan security forces . . . we are able to meet those goals and accelerate them somewhat,” said Obama on Jan. 11 in remarks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the White House’s East Room after meetings with Karzai. “Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission—training, advising, assisting Afghan forces,” added Obama. There are still some 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The US combat mission is scheduled to conclude there at the end of 2014. Obama said the details of the how the US drawdown will proceed “isn’t yet fully determined.” Discussions with the Afghan government are still under way on the scope of a US troop presence post-2014 to train, assist, and advise the Afghan forces, he said. (Obama-Karzai joint statement) (See also AFPS report by Jim Garamone and AFPS report by Terri Moon Cronk.)