Now more than ever,the US should not waver on Afghanistan,General John Campbell,US Army,outgoing commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan,told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week at the Capitol.The situation is more dynamic.As of last week,of 407 district centres,8 of them,or 2%,are under insurgent control;another 18,or 4%,are under insurgent influence.Often these district centres are in remote or sparsely populated areas that security forces are not able to access very often in force.Additionally,at any given time,there may be up to 94 district centres,or 23%,that we view as at risk.*
The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces have proven resilient,developing into a modern security force.The foundation has been laid.The ANDSF fought for the very survival of their country and held firm;however,the Afghan shortfall will persist beyond 2016.Capability gaps still exist in the fixed and rotary winged aviation;combined arms operations;intelligence collection,dissemination and maintenance;and close-air support.At least 70% of the problems result from poor leadership.ANDSF have not consolidated significant gains of their own;nor defeated the insurgency across Afghanistan.Suffice it to say,the performance this year was uneven.Ultimately,Afghanistan has not achieved an enduring level of security and stability that justifies a reduction of our support in 2016,GEN Campbell concluded in his testimony to the SASC in Washington.*
According to President Barack Obama's plan,the US troop level in Afghanistan is to remain at 9800 for most of 2016;then be decreased to 5500.Most of the 5500 would be for the counterterrorism mission,rather than the train,advise and assist mission.NATO countries have expressed their intention to continue participating in the alliance's Resolute Support Mission there for the remainder of this year.