Kabul: The top commander of US-led forces in Afghanistan believes government security forces have improved faster than expected and will be ready to take the lead in the 11-year-old war against the Taliban when foreign combat forces take a back seat this spring.
Associated Press that the main job over the next two years for the International Assistance Force as the NATO-led troops in Afghanistan are called will be to advise, train and build the capabilities needed for Afghan forces to go it completely alone.
Marine Gen. John Allen told The They will face their first test when the fighting season gets under way in the late spring and summer. During the harsh Afghan winter, snow often blocks roads and fighting dies down.
The Afghan security forces, which have nearly reached their full strength of 352,000, still need much work to become an effective and self-sufficient fighting machine, but a vast improvement in their abilities was behind a decision to accelerate the timetable for putting them in the lead nationwide, Allen said.
President Barack Obama announced earlier this month that the Afghans would take over this spring instead of late summer a decision that could allow the speedier withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
The Afghan troops "are further along in their capabilities than we had anticipated, and I`m very comfortable frankly with their being in the lead in 2013," Allen said in a recent interview ahead of his departure. "This is an acknowledgment of their capabilities."
The general, who has led the military coalition for 19 months, is leaving Afghanistan on Feb 10. The White House said it would nominate him to become the head of NATO forces in Europe after he was exonerated in a Pentagon investigation of questionable email exchanges with a Florida woman linked to the sex scandal that led his predecessor, David Petraeus, to resign as CIA director.
Allen, 59, of Warrenton, Virginia, said the investigation was troublesome, but he was confident that the process would clear him.
"I`ll make no secret that it was on my mind, but my number one goals were the interests of the troops, the coherence of the campaign and doing all I could obviously to further our combined interests here," he said. "But it does weigh on you, and while it weighed on me it really weighed on my family, it really weighed on my family, and the findings ultimately were announced and I continue to move on."
If confirmed by the Senate, Allen would succeed Navy Adm. James Stavridis in the NATO post.