At the recent NATO Summit in Chicago, Alliance leaders agreed that the Afghan National Security Forces will move into the lead for combat operations in mid-2013, allowing the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, to shift to a support role in all parts of the country. This will represent a major milestone toward completing the transition to an Afghan lead for securing the entirety of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
“This will not mark the end of Afghanistan’s challenges,” said President Barack Obama of this transition, “or our partnership with that important country. But we are making substantial progress against our core objective of defeating al Qaeda and denying it safe haven, while helping the Afghans to stand on their own.”
In recent years, there has been significant progress in Afghanistan. ISAF forces broke the Taliban’s momentum. Afghans are reclaiming their communities. Afghan security forces have grown stronger, and the transition is well underway. In fact, this summer, 75 percent of the Afghan people will live in areas where Afghan forces will be moving into the security lead.
After 2014, NATO will continue to train, advise and assist Afghan forces as they grow stronger. NATO members and international partners will also pay for much of the cost of the Afghan Security Forces until the Afghan economy is strong enough to cover those costs itself. These commitments send a powerful signal to the Afghan people and the region that Afghanistan will be able to maintain its own security after the transition and that the international community will support these efforts.