BRUSSELS - Fifty NATO and ISAF nations have promised to continue supporting the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) well beyond the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops, the Afghan defense minister said on Friday.
At the end of a two-day meeting of NATO/ISAF defense ministers, Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi told reporters here that his country was grateful to the global fraternity for continued assistance to ANSF, calling the pledge a golden chance.
He said the participants had agreed to keep the Afghan forces at their peak strength of 352,000 until 2018 security. The nascent forces were earlier planned to be slashed by a third after 2015 in view of declining defense budgets of NATO states.
With three phases of security transition completed successfully, the Afghan National Army (ANA) had emerged as a force to be reckoned with, remarked Mohammadi, who hastened to add the defense secretor continued to face challenges.
The absence of a full-fledged air force, limited intelligence resources and casualties from roadside bombings are the areas where Afghanistan needs foreign assistance, according to him.
Mohammadi said the meeting discussed the post-2014 foreign troop levels in Afghanistan but could not reach a consensus. “The NATO idea is to keep 8,000-12,000 soldiers in the country.”
About the need for regional cooperation, the minister said: “We believe that without support from our neighbors, peace will continue to elude Afghanistan.
There have lately been signs of solid backing from Pakistan, he acknowledged, hoping the neighbor would take more concrete steps to promote reconciliation and stability in Afghanistan. (Pajhwok)