News / Asia

US Troops to Hand Over Lead Fighting Role to Afghans

US Troops to Hand Over Lead Fighting Role to Afghansi
January 12, 2013 1:06 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai said Friday American troops will hand the lead role in fighting the Taliban to Afghan forces in the next few months. The remarks followed a meeting of the two leaders at the White House. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details.
US Troops to Hand Over Lead Fighting Role to Afghans
Meredith Buel
U.S. President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai said Friday American troops will hand the lead role in fighting the Taliban to Afghan forces in the next few months. The remarks followed a meeting of the two leaders at the White House.

Obama said American troops in Afghanistan will move to a supporting role several months earlier than expected.

“Our troops will have a different mission, training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. It will be an historic moment,” said Obama.

Karzai said after the handover, Afghan forces will be fully responsible for security.

“International forces, the American forces, will be no longer present in Afghan villages, that the task will be that of the Afghan forces to provide for the Afghan people security and protection,” said Karzai.

The comments came several days after a senior Obama administration official suggested the U.S. may pull out all of its  troops by the end of 2014.

Some analysts argue such a move would jeopardize the gains made during more than a decade of war.

“To keep a zero option will undermine what has been accomplished in Afghanistan," said former Afghan ambassador to the U.S. Said Jawad.

Analysts say even in two years, Afghan security forces will not be ready to battle the Taliban without U.S. helicopters, medical facilities, intelligence and other critical support.

“This is going to be absolutely critical. Having air support is a morale builder, particularly for ground troops knowing that they can get out of a tight situation because they can call in air support,” said Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute.

Earlier, Karzai was welcomed at the Pentagon in an elaborate ceremony. He thanked Americans and NATO allies for their sacrifices.

The U.S. hopes the Taliban will reconcile with the Afghan government, although virtually no progress has been made.

“It is going to be hard enough to ultimately, if they ever get to that point, agree really to compromise on the substance of things. But right now even the framework for an agreement is just not in sight,” said Weinbaum.

Keeping forces after 2014 will require an agreement on the role of U.S. troops including legal immunity for them.

Senior military officials have called for a strong force, expressing concern that a rapid disengagement could cause Afghanistan’s security forces to crumble.

While progress has been made to prevent insurgents from regaining territory, violence persists.

“Unfortunately we already see actually in some parts of Afghanistan continued presence of Taliban and relatively sustained activities of al-Qaida in eastern Afghanistan already,” said Jawad.

As Karzai wrapped up his visit, it appeared the sun already is setting on America’s long and costly war in Afghanistan.

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Comment Sorting
by: Domitian from: Canada
January 12, 2013 6:26 PM
What we don't hear are the preconditions for a sucessful withdrawal. As in previous wars, neither the unilateral declaration of peace or a negotiated ceasefire are going to be effective in Afghanistan. Afghanistan isn't going to normal - even pre 9/11 normal - for some time to come. And that is even if America leaves it alone.

The warfighters' scenario - a special forces presence to fight terror while Kabul grows government - is just another variety of the weeping ulcer that has converted American grandkds' birthright into a war debt.

There is no good outcome to Afghanistan.

by: woody james from: durham nc
January 12, 2013 12:06 PM
The senior military advisers comments in the article are worthless.
There have been no gains in 10 years of our involvement in this, the most corrupt country on the planet. The 10 years of nothing was not worth even 1 life of a young American. To show Karzai, the king of corruption, getting a royal reception by American military is nauseating. To contemplate anymore assistance of any kind is the insane thinking that has us there in the first place.

All of the equipment and personnel that are American should be removed immediately on a 24/7 schedule and the military generals that have been in charge of this huge failure fired with no benefits. I voted for Obama to see this debacle ended. I would like to hear Obama tell us why he is moving like a snail on ending any participation at all. We are leaving this God forsaken place in defeat by a bunch of rag tag bandits. The stupidity of the top brass and the buying of congress by the military lobbyists sucks.

by: mike from: sd,usa
January 12, 2013 5:20 AM
this is right the USA shouldn't be fighting their battles anyway we have Russians to watch now.

by: buck mast from: tennessee
January 12, 2013 4:47 AM
The USA has given American lives and has poured $Billions down that corrupt rat-hole of a country.What has Afghanistan given us-nothing We should have pulled out of that corrupt country years ago and watched the Taliban BBQ Karzai and the rest of the country descend into an Islamic hell

by: Chuckeroo from: USA
January 12, 2013 12:44 AM
I give them 6 months and they will be back to what they were. We should of pulled out when the people we were training started killing our troops. They thrive on turmoil. They don't want our help, they pretend to want our help and turn around and burn our flag and kill our soldiers. It is sad we had to loose so many for this. Bring them home ASAP

by: pete from: here
January 11, 2013 11:03 PM
We're stupid to have even been there in the first place. Now the icing on the cake.

by: Campbell, Curtis from: HellA
January 11, 2013 10:53 PM
Its now or never. In reality in only takes a few weeks if that to train an army to a level that exceeds the expectations...They have to want it to do it...If the Afghans are ready now that will never be...Get the U.S. out...The deep rooted strategy by this country is to drain America's treasure...

by: robert e morrison from: Northbrook, Il 60062
January 11, 2013 10:49 PM
The next few months are not soon enough! If I had a say in this our troops would be out tomorrow morning. I do not want another precious American life to be taken over there.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 11, 2013 10:20 PM
It is good to see that the NATO forces are in the process of drawing down/out. Pres Obama has made a difficult, but good decision on ending this costly, in human lives, mission. Let us hope the Afghan National forces come up to speed once on their own. After at least 8 yrs of training/working with allied forces, they should be able to get the job done. The moral concerning issue, is that if the Taliban fully re-emerge, and take full control of Afghanistan, the non-Pashtun people (mainly Shia) of the North, outside of the usual Pashtun homeland, probably will suffer retribution from the Taliban. At greater risk are those tribes that were part of the Northern Alliance. I hope that strong regional tribal units/forces are in fact part and parcel of the security arrangements, inside of the Afghan army, and that those units are in fact home defence units, stationed in their tribal areas. Civil wars are never easy to resolve, other than by the direct will of the national communities/forces involved in the conflict. Remaining NATO support forces, given the reduced force levels, will probably be at much greater risk; the sooner they are out the better.

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