Washington: US is against the "zero option" for the number of troops that would remain in Afghanistan after 2014, arguing that the mission is still not yet accomplished, said a Pentagon official.
However, it would have no other option except for the "zero option", if the United States didn`t successfully negotiate a security deal with Kabul that will give it a legal basis for having forces in Afghanistan after 2014, said Peter Lavoy, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asia Pacific Security Affairs.
"If we don`t get the permission of Afghan government in the form of a bilateral security agreement, then we will not be able to continue this job of working with ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and then you end up with zero," he said yesterday.
He added that US wants to have its presence in Afghanistan post 2014.
"That`s correct. And that is our intention," he said when asked if there would be US troops in some form or number, staying beyond 2014 to help with these sometimes mundane, but vital functions.
Although the Afghan forces have shown remarkable progress, he said the Pentagon envisions that it will take time before they can have sovereign ownership of all the skill sets.
"That`s why, as we`ve looked at a number of options that we`ve prepared in this building, in concert with our interagency partners for inter-agency consideration, these have taken into account the train, advise and assist functions, in addition to our own US counter-terrorism mission set going forward," he said.
"But these would focus less on combat proficiency and more on functional skill developments at the core and ministerial level," Lavoy said.
Lavoy added that as Afghan security forces are providing security for their own population, they need to get along with the people.
"They need to have an understanding with the population. They`re not a foreign force. They`re not a force liberating that population. They`re protecting the population," he said.
Ultimately, stability and peace will be achieved in Afghanistan by these deals being cut, either from the center or in regions.
"I don`t really see this as a problematic trend. Frankly, it is traditionally Afghanistan trend," he said.
Talks on a security deal were suspended following a disagreement this month after Taliban opened a political office in Doha and use the name and flag they had during their five-year rule.