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Afghan security forces control 70pc territory: Dunford

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: A senior US military general, Joseph Dunford Jr., told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington that Afghan security forces control 70 percent territory.

Dunford, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee that Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) suffered more casualties than what the US is “comfortable with” as the ANSF lags behind in key areas including intelligence, air power, and special operations. However, he did not provide details to the committee that how many casualties the Afghan security forces suffered since the US and its partners ended the combat mission in Afghanistan in December 2014.

The US military general, who testified alongside Defense Secretary Ash Carter, said that Afghan security and defense forces would be able to secure Afghanistan if they receive continued assistance from the US and its allies.

Dunford, who commanded the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan from 2013-2014, said, “On balance, I would call what is going on right now between the Afghan national defense security forces and the Taliban [as] roughly a stalemate.”

Speaking about the coalition against Daesh, led by indigenous forces in Iraq and Syria, he said that it has made significant progress against the global terrorist group. Dunford said the coalition has also hit the group in Libya, Afghanistan and West Africa.

“Coalition operations supporting indigenous ground forces … have disrupted core ISIL’s [Daesh] ability to mount external attacks, reduced its territorial control, limited its freedom of movement, eliminated many of their leaders and reduced the resources that they had available,” Dunford said. “Most importantly, the coalition has begun to discredit ISIL’s narrative and its aura of invincibility.”

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the committee that in Afghanistan, the US worked with Afghan partners to conduct a large operation against Daesh over the last two months.

“Working with our Afghan partners, we conducted a large operation against ISIL in Afghanistan over the last two months – dealing it severe blows, including killing its top leader, Hafiz Sayed Khan, and 11 other ISIL leaders, as well as degrading the organization’s infrastructure, logistics base, and recruiting.  There will be more to come in short order,” the defense secretary said

He said that in Afghanistan the US continues to counter terrorists, both Daesh and Al Qaeda, as well as help support and strengthen the Afghan security forces which have the lead in fighting the Taliban and other terrorists within Afghanistan’s borders.

“Meanwhile, more broadly, the US military continues to execute its two missions in Afghanistan – countering terrorism, and helping train, advise, and assist the Afghan security forces as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. President Obama approved our requests earlier this year to retain a more substantial US force presence into 2017, to enhance the authorities of our ground commanders, and to maintain our financial commitment to the Afghan security forces through 2020.  This will lead to positive effects.  Indeed, while challenges remain – including political challenges – we’re increasingly seeing the ANDSF [Afghan defense and security forces] undertake unilateral missions against ISIL and other targets on their own accord, with US-provided equipment,” he said.

Although, its combat mission is officially over, the US forces in Afghanistan have repeatedly supported Afghan security forces in the battlefield to beat back the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

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