General John R. Allen
I am grateful for the overwhelming commitment from the international community to support Afghanistan through 2014 and beyond. I was proud to join in the NATO Summit in Chicago that sent three unmistakable messages to the world:
To the Afghan people: we are committed to your future, To the Region: the international community will not abandon Afghanistan; and To the Taliban: you cannot wait us out.
Among the important outcomes of this event was the resounding commitment by the ISAF partner nations for the long term support of an Afghan National Security Force that is sufficient, capable, and sustainable in the post-2014 period.
This historic summit took place at a time of considerable operational progress in our shared campaign. Because of the extraordinary courage and skill of our ISAF coalition partners, and the Afghan National Security Force’s fighting men and women, this spring and summer, the insurgents have come back to find that many of their caches are empty; their former strongholds are untenable; and a good many of their foot soldiers absent or unwilling to join the fight. And, most importantly, insurgents are facing a battle-tested and increasingly capable Afghan National Security Force that is also serving as a source of pride to the Afghan people and a symbol of unity for this country.
During the last 12 months, the Afghan security forces have expanded from 276,000 to 340,000. They will reach their full surge strength ahead of the scheduled deadline in October. Additionally, Afghan forces are increasingly in the lead throughout the battle space, and the Afghans were in the lead for planning of this year’s campaign plan, Operation Naweed.
The expansion and professionalization of Afghan security forces now allow us to recover the remaining 23,000 U.S. surge troops by this fall, enable us to continue to pressure the Taliban to reintegrate and reconcile, and make possible security transition to the Afghans in accordance with our Lisbon commitments – and on time.
President Karzai’s historic announcement of Tranche 3 of the transition process is a significant milestone in our progress. The coming transition of every provincial capital and the Afghan National Security Forces providing security lead for three-quarters of the population marks the ever-increasing authority and capability of the Government of Afghanistan.
This summit, with its unambiguous commitment of long term support for the security of Afghanistan, is the clearest message yet the Taliban and the enemies of the Afghan people will not win this war. The Afghan National Security Forces, with the unwavering support and tangible commitments of the 50-nation coalition, grow stronger every day. Additionally, the Summit was a powerful signal of international support for an Afghan-led process of reconciliation; and in this process resides the greatest hope for the Taliban for the future. In the wake of this historic NATO Summit, as the Taliban see that their time grows short, they can choose to be part of the prosperous future of Afghanistan, but they can never prevail through violence and intimidation.
This campaign has been long, it has been difficult, and it has been costly. But I believe that ISAF’s campaign is on track. I see it every day – tangible evidence of progress. We are making a difference. We are fulfilling the Lisbon Roadmap of Transition, and the international community is standing with the noble Afghan people and Afghanistan now and into the Decade of Transformation.
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