A Strong U.S. Presence in Post-2014 Afghanistan
Making decision on level of post-2014 US troops in Afghanistan has become top priority for Kabul and Washington. It is expected that US president Barack Obama make decision on the issue after meeting President Karzai during his forthcoming visit to Washington. The level of US troops in post-2014 Afghanistan will be at the top of agenda when the two leaders discuss the post-2014 phase of US-NATO mission in Afghanistan. In the meantime, US top general in Afghanistan John Allen has submitted his three-option recommendations over the number of troops to the Pentagon. His proposed recommendations would keep 6,000 to 20,000 American troops in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends.
The number of US troops present in post-2014 Afghanistan is the most important part of the Security Pact that will be agreed on by Afghan and American officials some months later. The issue is being considered as the transition process has reached its critical stage and the withdrawal pace of US troops is speeding up. Meanwhile, the so-called insider attacks has resulted to growing pressures on Obama administration to quicken the exit of US troops from Afghanistan. The attacks remain a real threat to future partnership between Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and US army.
Keeping in view that the war is raging and foreign troops are heading to the exit gates, the Afghan government need to reach a security pact with the United Stated that ensures sufficient training for the ANSF and broad military cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States. In order to overcome any forthcoming challenges, the ANSF need better training, equipment, weaponry and more particularly a capable air force. This highlights the need for strong presence of US troops in post-2014 phase after their combat forces leaves Afghanistan.
According to the reports, the proposed recommendations put forward by US commander in Afghanistan includes three option on level of troops, each with a risk factor associated, meaning to guard against terrorism and advise Afghan military. An option of 6,000 troops would probably pose a higher risk of failure for the US mission in Afghanistan, while with the options of 10000 or above up to 20000 troops, the probable risks would be lesser.
Obviously, any sort of failure, on account of Kabul or Washington, in making a decision over strong presence of US forces in post-2014 Afghanistan would jeopardize the process of building a capable Afghan national military and put the ANSF in a weak position in the fight against the insurgents. In case the US approves a lower presence of troops in Afghanistan or the negotiations between Kabul and Washington produces a flawed agreement over future military partnership between the two countries, the motioned risks would be inevitable. In this case the ANSF would face severe challenges due to lack of sufficient training and equipment, as well as cooperation on intelligence and logistics.
Therefore, it is critically important for the government of Afghanistan to secure a strong partnership agreement with the United States. And equally the US officials need to learn from past experience of ignoring Afghanistan and recognize that underestimating the need of strong post-2014 presence in the country may endanger the over-a-decade mission of stabilizing Afghanistan.