Saturday, January 12, 2013

Joint Press Conference by President Obama and President Karzai (and my assessment on VSO/ALP)

I think this statement of President Karzai's from the press conference is going to be the cause of much discussion.

I'm very happy to hear from the President, as we also discussed it earlier, that in spring this year the Afghan forces will be fully responsible for providing security and protection to the Afghan people, and that the international forces, the American forces will be no longer present in Afghan villages, that the task will be that of the Afghan forces to provide for the Afghan people in security and protection. 

I have no knowledge of what is intended and what interpretations are being made or agreements being pursued but this is how I would interpret this especially in regards to Village Stability Operation and Afghan Local Police.

The important part of the statement is that the Afghan forces will be fully responsible for providing security and protection.  I think no international or US forces present in Afghan villages will be further refined to mean there will be no large scale unilateral presence of conventional military forces conducting International or US led operations against the insurgents  and terrorists.  I think that there will be end up being an acceptable presence of some advisors, primarily SOF, and enabling capabilities to support the Afghan forces.  What this may put an end to is "partnered operations" and operations with  the proverbial "Afghan Face" is put on which was the fig leaf of the Afghans being in charge.   This will require a real change in mindset for some forces who will have to have enough discipline to really conduct advise and assist activities without being in charge.  What this might really be interpreted as in a more simple way is that there will no longer be any US "battle-space owners."  This will be a re-establishment of Afghan sovereignty and possibly an end to the perception of foreign occupation.  The problem will be with those who cannot accept the fact that they cannot conduct unilateral operations and will truly have to work through and with and in support of Afghan forces.  I think we will see the right forces in the villages but it will be low-key and that the Afghan forces will truly be in charge and there will no longer simply be "Afghan faces" on operations.  Are they ready to do this? With this work of fail?  I do not know but it may be the only politically acceptable way ahead.

Subject: Joint Press Conference by President Obama and President Karzai

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                            January 11, 2013


East Room

1:40 P.M. EST

     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Please have a seat.

It is my pleasure to welcome President Karzai back to the White House, as well as his delegation.  We last saw each other during the NATO Summit, in my hometown of Chicago -- a city that reflects the friendship between our peoples, including many Afghan-Americans, as well as the Karzai family.  So, Mr. President, welcome.

We meet at a critical moment.  The 33,000 additional forces that I ordered to Afghanistan have served with honor.  They’ve completed their mission and, as promised, returned home this past fall.  The transition is well underway, and soon nearly 90 percent of Afghans will live in areas where Afghan forces are in the lead for their own security. 

This year, we’ll mark another milestone -- Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the entire country.  And by the end of next year, 2014, the transition will be complete --Afghans will have full responsibility for their security, and this war will come to a responsible end.

This progress is only possible because of the incredible sacrifices of our troops and our diplomats, the forces of our many coalition partners, and the Afghan people who’ve endured extraordinary hardship.  In this war, more than 2,000 of America’s sons and daughters have given their lives.  These are patriots that we honor today, tomorrow, and forever.  And as we announced today, next month I will present our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha for his heroic service in Afghanistan. 

Today, because of the courage of our citizens, President Karzai and I have been able to review our shared strategy.  With the devastating blows we’ve struck against al Qaeda, our core objective -- the reason we went to war in the first place -- is now within reach:  ensuring that al Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against our country.  At the same time, we pushed the Taliban out of their strongholds.  Today, most major cities -- and most Afghans -- are more secure, and insurgents have continued to lose territory.

Meanwhile, Afghan forces continue to grow stronger.  As planned, some 352,000 Afghan soldiers and police are now in training or on duty.  Most missions are already being led by Afghan forces.  And of all the men and women in uniform in Afghanistan, the vast majority are Afghans who are fighting and dying for their country every day. 

We still face significant challenges.  But because of this progress, our transition is on track.  At the NATO Summit last year, we agreed with our coalition partners that Afghan forces will take the lead for security in mid-2013. 

President Karzai and his team have been here for several days.  We’ve shared a vision for how we're going to move ahead.  We’ve consulted with our coalition partners, and we will continue to do so.  And today, we agreed that as Afghan forces take the lead and as President Karzai announces the final phase of the transition, coalition forces will move to a support role this spring.  Our troops will continue to fight alongside Afghans, when needed.  But let me say it as plainly as I can:  Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission -- training, advising, assisting Afghan forces.  It will be an historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty  -- something I know that President Karzai cares deeply about, as do the Afghan people.
(Continued at the link below)

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