U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told Marines in Afghanistan that by the end of this year their mission will have been “completed,” U-T San Diego reported today.
However, the same article pointed out that it remains uncertain whether the Afghanistan forces will be able to sustain security and prevent “an all-out civil war or Taliban takeover after most international troops leave in 2014.”
“A year from now we are going to be out of here. And it’s not a matter of cut and run,” said Gen. Amos while speaking to Marines on Christmas Day at Combat Outpost Shukvani in Sangin, a town in the Afghan province of Helmand.
“We will have done everything we can, everything we can, to give this country the opportunity to succeed,” he added, according to U-T San Diego. “Only history is going to tell whether or not they seize that opportunity. I am optimistic, but the one thing I feel damn good about regardless of what happens – we will have completed the mission.”
Echoing the Marine commandant, U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top commander of all U.S.-NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, told U-T San Diego, “We have provided the Afghan people with hope for the future. That to me is the lasting legacy.”
Gen. Dunford warned that unless the U.S. stays in Afghanistan for a couple more years to help develop the Afghan forces, security gains could be squandered.
“I’ll just be flat out and tell you, with regard to the efforts with the Afghan security forces, if we’re not here for a short period of time after 2014, it’s not sustainable,” Dunford told U-T San Diego.
U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Lee Miller, who is in charge of U.S.-NATO-led forces in southwestern Afghanistan, added, “you’re not going to defeat an ideology. You can’t kill them all. It will be here for years to come. This is now political.”
About 38,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. Afghan forces have taken over the lead of security in their country.
The Obama administration has endorsed a plan to end the U.S.-NATO-led combat mission in Afghanistan at end of this year. Under the plan, a residual force will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 to continue training the Afghan forces and assist them in conducting counterterrorism operations.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has thrown that process into confusion by refusing to sign a security pact that will pave the way for U.S. military presence in Afghanistan past 2014.
The White House has warned that if Karzai does not sign the agreement soon, the U.S. will pursue complete U.S. withdrawal at the end of this year.