Planning for Post-2014 Mission Continues: Hagel
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration continues to plan a post-2014 mission in Afghanistan, despite an impasse over the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday. President Hamid Karzai has refused so far to sign the pact, in the absence of which US has said it will not keep its troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the current International Security Assistance Force mission ends.
“We will continue to plan and work with our NATO and ISAF commanders for a post-2014 mission. You know that we’ve identified that as train, assist, advice and counterterrorism,” Hagel told Pentagon reporters. He would be travelling to Brussels in two or three weeks, with the post-2014 presence on the agenda, the secretary said, exuding confidence the BSA would be signed soon, The US continues to encourage Karzai to ink the deal.
“The US president has stated very clearly — and we are proceeding on this — first, the combat mission of our role in Afghanistan has changed. That lead combat mission has been turned over to the Afghans,” he said. “Again, a post-2014 presence of the United States and our ISAF partners will be about continuing to train, assist and advise — we do that all over the world with partners and allies — as well as continue our counterterrorism efforts, which I think everyone supports, it’s clearly in our interest,” he argued.
Hagel added he Afghan army had performed pretty well in the last two years, but it was still in the institution-building process. Twelve years ago, there were not any institutions at all in Afghanistan, he recalled. The US was facilitating a continuation of investing and helping the Afghans invest in their own future, in their own institutions, to give them the capability. (PAN)