Afghan Forces Avail Air Support in Uninhibited Areas: Katz
KABUL – Foreign troops continue to provide Afghan counterparts with air support during operations against insurgents in areas where there is no possibility of any civilian casualties, outgoing ISAF military spokesman Gen. Gȕnter Katz said on Monday. He told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview that President Hamid Karzai’s decree barring Afghan forces from seeking air support should not be misunderstood.
He said the president had called for no air support to Afghan forces in residential areas, while ISAF continued to provide air support to Afghan forces in uninhabited areas. Few months ago when 10 civilians were killed during a NATO airstrike in eastern Kunar province, President Karzai issued a decree barring Afghan forces from seeking air support from foreign troops during their operations in residential areas.
About increasing casualties among Afghan forces, especially police, the ISAF spokesman said most of operations against insurgents were currently carried out by Afghan forces on their own and they had taken over security responsibility in most of areas across the country. Gen. Katz said their troops were making joint efforts with Afghan counterparts and working on different options to minimise casualties among Afghan forces.
To a question, he said ISAF had been cooperative in equipping Afghan forces and would continue to cooperate in this regard. He said some allies, especially the US, were assisting the Afghan government to strengthen and equip its forces. The ISAF spokesman said it had been recently decided to buy 20 small aircrafts for the Afghan air force, admitting Afghan forces lacked sufficient weapons and equipment.
He suggested the Afghan government should establish special contacts with a number of friendly countries with regard to fulfilling the needs of its forces. However, he said he would not comment on Afghanistan’s request to India for weapons.
The outgoing ISAF military spokesman said during his one year job he observed that Afghan forces were improving day by day. He said Afghan forces kept security for nearly hundred percent of areas compared to a year back when they would maintain security for 50 percent areas. He said the strength of Afghan forces had reached 352,000 and their combat ability had significantly improved. The Afghan forces had the ability to defend their country after the withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014, he said. (PAN)