The long-waited withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan may be not as “full” as had been expected. The US will help defend the country militarily for at least a decade after Afghans take control of their security, a National Security Adviser said.
The pledge is contained in the new strategic pact agreed between the two countries on Sunday, Rangin Dadfar Spanta said on Monday. A section of this pact implies that the US will not to use Afghanistan as a launch pad for attacks on other countries in the region, including for drone strikes.
However he stressed that the US will only come to Afghanistan's aid with approval from Kabul.
Washington may use “diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means,” the official said, as cited by AP.
Also under the agreement, after 2014 the US will continue supporting Afghan security forces financially. The US will fork out up to $4 billion annually, if the funding is approved by the Congress.
However it remains unclear whether Afghanistan would approve such military assistance from the US. The two countries are facing a serious setback in their relations after a number of incidents involving the US troops deployed in Afghanistan.
In the wake of the Kandahar massacre, when a US soldier shot dead 17 Afghan civilians in a nighttime killing spree, US President Barack Obama pledged to get his troops out of Afghanistan in a “responsible way,” in order to make sure there will be no need to get back in.
The US has long promised to withdraw its troops by 2014 and hand over control to the Afghan authorities. In February, the US Department of Defense even stated that they were planning to complete withdrawal of the combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2013.
The remaining troops were planned to be transited from a “combat role to a training, advise-and-assist role,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.
*It is not the first time the US has clung tenaciously to the territories its troops set foot into. After the invasion in Iraq in to 2003, it took the US almost nine years, and several postponed deadlines, finally to move all its troops out of the country.
Between the partial withdrawal in 2010 and the full withdrawal in December 2011, over 50,000 US servicemen, referred to as a "transitional force," were "training, equipping and advising Iraqi Security Forces.” President Barack Obama had discussed with Iraqi officials the possibility of extending the stay of “transitional” troops in Iraq, but they virtually kicked the US troops out of the country.
Although the army troops were withdrawn, several thousand contractors have reportedly taken over their peacekeeping mission. Besides that, the US is still operating its controversial fleet of drones over Iraq’s territory and, according to the State Department, the military is not planning to scrap its drone surveillance program for at least another five years.
US to Defend Afghanistan After Troop Withdrawal
A top Afghan official says the United States is promising to help defend Afghanistan militarily for at least the next decade after Afghan forces formally take full control of the their country's security in 2014.
Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta shared the terms of the proposed U.S.-Afghan strategic deal with the country's parliament Monday. The draft agreement was signed a day earlier by Spanta and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker during a ceremony in Kabul.
Spanta said that under the proposed deal, both sides could agree to extend U.S. military assistance past 2024.
The eight-part pact covers a wide range of issues, including economic, social and political dealings between the U.S. and Afghanistan once all international combat troops leave the country in 2014. However, Spanta told lawmakers that U.S. and Afghan officials agreed to take out the issue of U.S. bases, calling it "complicated" at this time.
He said both sides agreed to negotiate a new deal within the next year outlining the number of U.S. bases and troops as well as their responsibilities past 2014.
The draft strategic agreement now heads to U.S. President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai for review, as well as the U.S. Congress and Afghan parliament.
U.S. officials say Obama expects to sign the document before a NATO summit in Chicago next month.
U.S. and Afghan officials were able to finalize the draft after the United States agreed to Afghanistan's demand for full control over the U.S.-run Bagram prison and allowed Afghan forces to take the lead on controversial special forces night raids against Taliban insurgents.
President Karzai also has said he wants a written commitment of $2 billion a year from the United States after the withdrawal.
U.S. officials said they could pay up to about $4 billion a year to fund Afghan forces. But they add the strategic pact is not meant to be a detailed aid package, but rather a broad framework committing both sides to continue to work together for years to come.
Source: US to Defend Afghanistan After Troop Withdrawal | USA | English