The Post-2014 NATO Plan for Afghanistan
The US military presence in Afghanistan will continue for two more years and by 2016 the United States is going to withdraw all troops except a small contingent for protecting embassy. According to American officials, the mission’s core facets will be anti-terrorist special operations and training Afghanistan’s security forces. The post-2014 NATO military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 will be mainly consisted of US forces, but the United States its allied nations in NATO to contribute to the mission and provide troops for the mission. NATO member countries’ top officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss the details of the operation and commit for other nations to the Afghan security operation after 2014.
It is expected that other NATO members commit their share of troops for the mission. The NATO officials in Brussels will also seek to assure that the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan will not be abandoning the country and jeopardizing the hard-gained achievements of the past twelve years for which the US and other NATO countries paid enormous prices. While on one hand Obama is trying to assure the American public that the Afghan war is ending, on the other hand, he is also trying to say that US commitment towards Afghanistan will not end by then and the country will continue security cooperation with the government of Afghanistan.
In Obama’s words the war in Afghanistan will soon end, while there are some levels of skepticisms inside the US and among some NATO members regarding sustainability of security after complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. Obama recently drew out his two-year program for the security transition in Afghanistan. He said, “this is how wars end in the 21st century–not through signing ceremonies but through decisive blows against our adversaries, transitions to elected governments, security forces who are trained to take the lead and ultimately full responsibility.” However, many in Afghanistan and western capitals doubt whether the gains are sustainable enough to survive complete withdrawal of foreign forces.
The United States and its other allied nations in NATO will commit about 12,000 troops for only two years – 2014-2016 – something far less ambitious than what were expected so far as the White House was deliberating over the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan. Many in the United States see the plan as a minimalist objective for Afghanistan and the US relations after end of the war in the country. In Obama’s plan, it is assumed that the forces will play role in training Afghan security forces and conduct anti-terrorism operations across the country. This is while the size of the force for such broad and complicated responsibilities has been already questioned. Earlier, the US commanders demanded the Obama administration to approve more than 10,000 troops for next decade.
Though the NATO summit in Brussels is considered a low-profile session of NATO officials, it is expected to define the scope of the limited two-year security operation and receive specific commitments from other NATO members for the post-war mission in Afghanistan.