'Afghan forces to be equipped with drone capabilities'



Washington: Afghan forces would be equipped with drone capabilities to keep a watch on the tough terrain along its eastern border with Pakistan, a top American General has told lawmakers.

"The Afghans do not have that capability yet. It's one of the enablers that we are trying to build into them before we leave," Gen James Mattis, the commander of US Central Command, told members of the powerful House Armed Services Committee.

"The long-term view is that we will continue this so long as we are there, and we will transition this capability, standing it up inside the Afghan forces so when we leave, they have the ability to keep an eye on that border area," he said.

Referring to the difficult terrain along the Af-Pak border, the General said, "I've operated in many areas around the world, and I've never had more difficult military terrain to operate in than along that border."

Mattis was responding to questions from Congressman Ron Barber, who expressed concern about the ability of US and its allies to target terrorists, such as the Haqqani network, along the Afghanistan and Pakistani border.

Barber asked if there is a long-term plan for American unmanned reconnaissance after the planned drawdown of American troops and what capacities does the Afghan national security force have for unmanned aerial platforms to target terrorists' networks.

PTI