Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Monday, February 27th, 2017

Afghan Forces Emerge Stronger in 2016: NATO

Afghan Forces Emerge  Stronger in 2016: NATO

KABUL - Hailing Afghan forces combat abilities, NATO said Afghan National Defence Security Forces (ANDSF) have thwarted the Taliban attacks in most parts of the war-torn country and did not allow the group to capture provincial capitals.
Brig. Gen. Charlie Cleveland, US-NATO spokesman, during an exclusive interview told Pajhwok Afghan News the Taliban should know that they could not win the ongoing conflict militarily and the only path towards peace was dialogue and reconciliation.
When asked about the ANDSF operational, battle ground abilities, achievements and threats, he said that Afghan forces denied the Taliban to capture any provincial capital although it was tough fighting year.
The ANDSF was able to plan and then execute a campaign plan targeting the Taliban and IS-K, he said.
Cleveland hailed Afghan forces for effectively using their new capabilities last year that included A29 attack aircraft, MD 530 attack helicopters.
He said: “we have seen progress and evolution of the Afghan Security Forces during this past year.  They performed better in 2016 than they did in 2015 - their 1st year responsible for security - and we expect them to perform better in 2017 than this year.”
On overall security situation in the year ahead, he said: “We characterize the security situation right now as equilibrium, or balance, in favor of the government based on amount of population secured.”
Gen. Cleveland said the Afghan government currently secured about two-thirds (2/3rds) of the population and the Taliban controlled less than 10%.
"There has been about 25% of the country's territory that is contested, but we expect the government to increase the amount of the population it secures."
The NATO spokesman expressed confidence over the capabilities of ANDSF and said they performed better in 2016 compared to 2015 and expected that would have more gains this year.
He said NATO was working together with Afghan security institutions in areas of countering corruption, leadership training, collective training, distributing new equipment and recruiting and training new personnel.
About the Taliban strategies in the future he said the group failed to execute its planning of capturing provincial capitals, adding they would try the same strategy in the future.
“The Taliban failed to achieve any of their strategic objectives in 2016, namely the capture of a provincial capital. They tried eight times and were unsuccessful every time. So we expect them to make another attempt to seize a provincial capital, he said”
He added, the Taliban should know that they would not win militarily and the only path towards peace is a political reconciliation.
The NATO spokesman hinted they expected IS-K, Al Qaeda, and the other terrorist groups to attempt high profile attacks against Afghan citizens and infrastructure.
When asked about Daesh activities in the eastern part of the country Gen. Cleveland said: “Our shared goal with our Afghan partners is the defeat of IS-K, and we will not relent until they have been defeated.”
He recalled last year, when as a result of combined efforts of the ANDSF and the US resulted in killing the top 12 IS-K leaders, 500 IS-K members, and reducing their territory from 10 districts to less than three.  The ANSDF and the US would continue targeting IS-K wherever they are.
In his message to Afghan forces the NATO spokesman assured them full support, saying decision made in Warsaw and Brussels summits would be honored and the international community was with Afghanistan.
He said NATO would continue providing capability and would make Afghan forces stronger. (Pajhwok)