Monday, April 21, 2008

The "Interim Security Assistance Force"?

I detect a slight bit of spin from the commander of ISAF (and I sure hope he's not spinning about Afghan capabilites):
The Afghan Army and police forces should be able to secure most of Afghanistan by 2011, allowing international forces to start withdrawing, the American commander of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan K. McNeill, said Sunday [April 20].

“By about 2011 there is going to be some pretty good capacity in the Afghan National Army,” he said in an interview in the Kabul headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force.

“It will take them a few more years to get their air transport and air support platforms online, but they should be covering a lot of battle space by some time in 2011, in my view,” he said.

By then, barring any cataclysm, the countries contributing troops to the international force could look at whether such a large international force was still desirable, General McNeill said. “I think you begin to get to a juncture and say, ‘Probably not, maybe we should be starting to change the way this force works,’ ” he said...

General McNeill said that the United Nations-mandated force, which includes 47,000 troops from 40 countries, would be better named the Interim Security Assistance Force, in recognition of its temporary role until Afghan forces can take over.

The general, who will complete his second tour in Afghanistan this summer — he commanded American forces from 2002 to 2003 — said that Afghan forces had already effectively been managing the security for Kabul, the capital, for the last year, albeit with NATO support. He also expressed confidence that the Afghans would be able to secure the country well enough for the country to hold presidential elections in September 2009.

“Tactically, on the battlefield, the insurgents did not have a very good year last year,” he said. “The so-called toe-to-toe fights will probably be less common — smaller skirmishes — but the technique of choice for the insurgent will be the improvised explosive device and the suicide bomber.”..

Development of a national police force is critical to success in countering the insurgency, he said, adding that despite generous support from the United States Congress for police training, “The rate of progress is not fast enough for any of us.”
France to deploy new Afghanistan force by August
Update: ISAF, in one form or another, has been in Afstan for over five years. I hope the general doesn't mean "interim" as in UNIFIL.


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