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US general thinks of lasting Afghan presence

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Lt. Gen. John Nicholson who has been nominated by President Barack Obama as the new US forces commander in Afghanistan, says that the US authorities need to think about “an enduring commitment” to the Afghans.

Nicholson told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the plan for a long-term military presence in Afghanistan was part of Obama’s policy allowing 5,500 troops after his presidency.

In October, Obama revised the pull out plan to keep thousands of forces in Afghanistan until 2017.

“Currently, the 9,800 troops deployed in Afghanistan are split between the NATO-led training and assistance mission, Operation Resolute Support, and a separate mission tasked with performing counter-terrorism operation,” he answered a question.

“It is clear that the trans-national terrorist organizations like the al-Qaeda and the IS, were attempting to establish sanctuaries inside Afghanistan.”

The US troops were recently allowed to target the IS in Afghanistan, as part of their counter-terrorism mission.

Gen. John Campbell’s successor said that the emergence of the IS and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan meant that the counter-terrorism mission had expanded in recent years, potentially requiring an increase in the US counter-terrorism capabilities.

He said the lack of Afghan air force had made a vacant in the air support for the Afghan army against the Taliban. “The Afghan air capability will take a long time to develop and the US-led coalition needs to address this gap in the interim.”

In response to a question regarding the possibility of the US forces’ combat role in case of a big victory by the Taliban, Nicholson said: “the US troops will not sit on the sidelines.”


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