Afghan forces 'may allow al-Qaida return'
06 August 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron has been warned that Afghan security forces are ill-prepared to take full control of security in the country and that proceeding with current withdrawal plans could allow al-Qaida to return, it has been reported.
Almost 75 per cent of Afghan security operations are now said to be led by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops prepare to step back from leading combat operations in mid-2013 ahead of a full withdrawal in late 2014.
However, a report in The Daily Telegraph claimed that the Afghan National Army (ANA) currently has just 10 battalions – just under 6,000 men - which can "plan, mount and execute operations without NATO's help".
Some 15,000 of the 350,000 members of the ANSF are also said to be absent without leave while a further 25,000 have been "written off" as absentees or deserters, according to the report.
Some of those deserters have allied with the Taliban, taking ISAF equipment and classified information with them. One high-profile case recently saw 14 Afghan police in the west of the country take equipment and kill those who did not join them in defecting.
A recent increase in 'green on blue' attacks has resulted in 30 ISAF troop deaths this year, directly causing France to accelerate its withdrawal date from the country, and corruption and links to the opium trade are also cited as areas of concern.
The US is reportedly facing pressure to delay its withdrawal of 23,000 troops by one month amid fears the ANSF must be ready to face a potential surge of thousands of Taliban fighters from Pakistan's tribal areas once ISAF troops depart.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "It is the Afghans who are increasingly taking the lead on operations, deploying in formed units, carrying out their own operations and taking greater responsibility for security both across Afghanistan and in Helmand where UK Forces operate alongside side them.
"UK forces will draw down by 500 to 9,000 this year and will cease combat operations by the end of 2014 when the Afghans will take the overall lead.
"The Prime Minister has been clear that this drawdown will be a steady and measured process, and not a "cliff edge" reduction. Planning continues to consider the details of how this will be achieved."
HAVE YOUR SAY
06 August 2012
That is always going to happen. The west cannot occupy the Middle East for ever.
Daniele Mandelli - Guildford
06 August 2012
So the report's saying that less than 2% of the people on the books of the ANSF are in units capable of independently conducting combat operations, while 11% have (at best) gone AWOL. This after 10 years of effort by NATO to create a viable Afghan army to prop up the pro-Western regime it hopes to leave in possession of the country.
"UK forces will draw down by 500 to 9,000 this year and will cease combat operations by the end of 2014 when the Afghans will take the overall lead."
I'm confident that they will but I suspect it won't be the particular faction of Afghans that the spokesman has in mind.
Stan - York