At a recently held Senate Armed Services Committee meeting, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the newly appointed commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, received strong criticism for his statement regarding the future of US troops in Afghanistan. President Obama had announced earlier that the withdrawal of NATO troops will take place by December 2014. During the Senate meeting, negotiators from the US and Afghanistan suggested a dire need to sign a joint security agreement to govern Afghanistan in a post-2014 scenario.
Although 2014 is the year of ‘salvation’ for Afghanistan, Gen. Dunford believes that the enduring role of the troops in the country will extend beyond this deadline. Though not adopting a military offensive, U.S troops will be required to monitor a peaceful transition, assist with development efforts and promote democratic structures. The U.S government has, however, proposed a complete withdrawal with the absolute minimum involvement of U.S military personnel. Dunford’s statement comes at a time when the national security team is experiencing a major shuffle in its hierarchy and the US is preparing to pull out 68,000 troops from Afghanistan.
Gen. Dunford aims at ending America’s most expensive and unpopular war, as soon as possible. According to the 2014 exit plan, President Obama, NATO allies and President Karzai want to hand over primary responsibilities for combat and security to Afghan national forces. International observers contend that neither the Afghan National Po- lice nor the Afghan National Army are equipped or prepared to assume full control of Afghanistan’s security and stability. While the Afghan government backs the decision, it does acknowledge the incompetency of the Afghan national force to maintain law and order thus jeopardizing the country’s future.
During the Senate Committee meeting, Gen. Dunford presented an ‘advisory role’ proposal, which refers to the need for a US contingent staying in Afghanistan past 2014 to monitor the situation and take corrective action.