|NATO Planners Look to Enduring Force in Afghanistan|
By Jim Garamone
BRUSSELS (Jan. 17, 2013) – With just 23 months until the end of the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan, Afghan forces are poised to move into the lead operationally, and NATO and partner nations are discussing the scope and missions of the enduring presence force that will remain in the country.
The post-2014 needs are a training-and-advising capability and a focused counterterrorism capability, the officer said. How to execute those missions at various troop levels are the conversations that are going on within NATO, in Afghanistan and in the capitals of partner nations, he told reporters, adding that ISAF has not been asked to provide advice with respect to a zero-troop option.
The drawdown of U.S. surge forces in Afghanistan created the space and necessitated innovation for Afghan forces. “They are doing corps-level operations today using counterinsurgency type tactics, techniques and procedures, with us firmly in an advisory role,” he said.
The army’s difficulties, he told reporters, stem from four basic problems: quality of leadership, quality of life, access to leave, and pay.
The attrition is coming down, the officer said.
One Taliban tactic is simply to wait out the NATO ISAF mission and take on the Afghan national security force, the officer said, but he added he does not believe that is the Taliban’s strategy.
And all this has to happen so the footprint for an enduring force is ready by the end of 2014, the officer said. About 220 bases in Afghanistan have to close over the next 23 months. “The strategic end state is to seek the final basing platform for our mission that converts naturally into the basing platform for the enduring presence force,” he explained.