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Moving Forward in Afghanistan


Afghan Special Forces and policemen prepare themselves for battle with the Taliban on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah capital of Helmand, Afghanistan, Oct. 10, 2016.

The United States remains committed to helping Afghanistan become a more secure and stable country, said Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson.

The United States remains committed to helping Afghanistan become a more secure and stable country, said Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson.

In order to support Afghan security, President Barack Obama announced in July that the U.S. would keep a larger force on the ground in Afghanistan through 2016 than originally planned. And NATO allies and partners agreed to extend NATO’s training mission and to fund the Afghan forces through 2020.

In their second year on the job, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces demonstrated greater discipline and capacity than ever before. The fight has not been easy.

“Afghan casualty levels are higher this year than last,” said Mr. Olson, “but the Afghan security forces continue to execute their campaign strategy and have demonstrated resilience in security operations around the country.”

U.S. forces also continue to disrupt and degrade ISIL. Counterterrorism operations against ISIL and the remnants of al-Qaida continue to be a priority for the United States in order to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.

Security in Afghanistan is closely tied to political stability. The U.S. remains firmly committed to the unity government established two years ago between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. The U.S. continues to urge all parties to resolve their political differences peacefully and in a spirit of inclusivity. Afghanistan is a diverse country, and its citizens need and deserve a government that is effective and able to represent all elements of society, said Mr. Olson. It is critical that there be tangible progress on electoral reforms, a credible election timeline, and a reasonable plan to prepare for a Constitutional Loya Jirga.

On the plus side, the Afghan government completed its accession to the World Trade Organization in July, reflecting a commitment to fostering trade. The government also completed an International Monetary Fund program that resulted in increased revenue collection and a crackdown on corruption.

The coalition that the U.S. and its allies have built and maintained through years of diplomacy, said Mr. Olson, “will continue to stand side-by-side with the Afghan people as they chart a path toward a long sought, and long overdue peace.”

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