By: Lailuma Noori
Following remarks by US officials in connection with modality of US forces’ presence in Afghanistan, defense affairs commission for lower house of Afghanistan parliament has said Afghanistan still needs presence of international forces in the country.
Deputy of the commission Ghulam Wali Afghan has stressed that Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will face with challenges without close support of the international forces as insecurities are increasing day by day in the country.
“Presence of international forces in particular US forces in Afghanistan is necessary as our security forces still need to have their technical support and further military equipment,” said deputy of defense committee of Afghanistan parliament Ghulam Wali Afghan.
He added that presence of US forces was very significant until Afghan National Defense and Security Forces get all necessary military capabilities to fight terrorist groups in the country.
This comes after US defense secretary in his recent remarks said that US troops would stay in Afghanistan until they make sure Afghanistan would not change to safe haven for terrorist groups.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper had previously said that any future troop drawdowns in Afghanistan were “not necessarily” linked to a deal with Taliban insurgents, suggesting some lowering of force levels may happen irrespective of the ongoing peace push.
If honored by all sides, a ceasefire could lead to a significant reduction in violence. But U.S. military commanders would still focus on the threats associated with two other militant groups in Afghanistan: Islamic State and al Qaeda.
“I feel confident that we could reduce our numbers in Afghanistan and still ensure that place doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorists who could attack the United States,” Esper said, without offering a figure. “And our allies agree we can make reductions as well.”
There are currently about 13,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan as well as thousands of other NATO troops. U.S. officials have said U.S. forces could drop to 8,600 and still carry out an effective, core counter-terrorism mission as well as some limited advising for Afghan forces.
A draft accord agreed in September before peace talks collapsed would have withdrawn thousands of American troops in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the United States or its allies.
Still, many U.S. officials privately doubt the Taliban could be relied upon to prevent al Qaeda from again plotting attacks against the United States from Afghan soil.
Currently, Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have main responsibilities to maintain security in the country as they have been able to better plan and conduct aggressive attacks against terrorist groups in various parts of the country, but despite of all capabilities ANDSF have obtained in the past years, they still need continued support of coalition forces.