Are Afghans really ready to take over security?
On Tuesday, the U.S.-led coalition completed a five-stage security transition process in Afghanistan that began two years ago at the NATO summit in Lisbon, allowing the Afghan forces to take the security lead across the country for the first time in more than a decade. Yet despite NATO’s insistence that it will not abandon Afghanistan, the allies are seemingly struggling to agree on just what that engagement might look like.
At the recent NATO defense ministerial meeting, the allies endorsed a new Afghan National Security Forces training mission called “Resolute Support” that will involve a multi-national international force after 2014. While Washington wants the allies involved in the new training mission to supply a smaller force to sustain the ANSF, none want to see that engagement turn into a reduced version of the currently huge Afghan campaign.
But although the alliance’s timely agreement on these issues is critical, there are at least three other important challenges – and lingering doubts – that could disrupt the security transition and undermine Afghanistan’s broader democratic transition in 2014.
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Javid Ahmad is a Program Coordinator with the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, DC.