Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Afghanistan should not be concerned about the situation in the country after 2014 because Nato would continue to help and support it after the foreign troops withdraw.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Nato Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels, Rasmussen told TOLOnews that he was confident the Afghan security forces will be a capable of maintain security by 2015.
“I think the Afghan people should not be concerned about the situation after 2014,” the Secretary General said Tuesday.
“We will still be there to help and assist the Afghan security forces after 2014. When we end our current combat operation by the end of 2014, we will have a very strong Afghan security force to take full responsibility for the security all over Afghanistan. I feel confident that the Afghan security forces will be able to take such full responsibility.
There will be 352,000 Afghan security forces and through training and education they will be very capable,” he said.
Rasmussen emphasised that the Nato mission will not be stopped by the recent spike of “insider” attacks by Afghan security forces on Nato and allied troops this year.
“The insider attacks are indeed a matter of great concern, and they hit both foreign troops and Afghan security forces, so we have a joint responsibility in countering these insider attacks,” Rasmussen told TOLOnews.
“We have taken a number of measures to prevent such attacks. We have strengthened vetting and recruitment procedures, we have strengthened counter-intelligence measures, and we will continue to take new steps if necessary because these insider attacks threaten to undermine trust and confidence between foreign troops and Afghan security forces and we will not let them succeed because the daily cooperation between foreign troops and Afghan forces is based on trust and confidence.”
The Nato defense ministers are expected to discuss the matter of insider attacks today – the second and final day of the Brussels meeting – as well as the broader Afghanistan security situation and the new Nato mission after 2014.
Rasmussen said at the Nato meeting on Tuesday said that the current mission is on track for the 2014 drawdown, correcting reports last week that Nato might look to leave earlier than 2014.
“The goal, the strategy and the timeline remain unchanged,” he said.
Wednesday’s discussions will also cover what the new mission of training and assistance from 2015 will involve while addressing the thorny problem of military spending at a time when governments are under pressure on all sides to cut budgets.
“This period of economic austerity poses a challenge to defence budgets but it also opens an opportunity for strength and cooperation and new ways to provide security,” Rasmussen said.
Meanwhile, Nato civilian spokesperson in Afghanistan Dominic Medley said Tuesday in Kabul that Nato’s planning process for post-2014 involvement was in motion and the ministers were due to conclude the first phase by approving the broad framework for the mission.
“On Afghanistan, ministers are expected to take a step forward in planning the next mission – to provide training, advice and assistance to Afghan forces after the end of 2014,” he said. “This will guide Nato’s military experts as they take the planning process ahead so that the detailed outline can be reached early next year, and a plan finalised well before the end of 2013.”
Afghan Ministry of Interior Mujtana Patang said at the same conference that the Afghan security forces are ready to take over full security reasonability from Nato-led troops and the upcoming election.
“The people eyes are on police, the upcoming election and the security responsibility. All these things Afghan security forces are ready for,” he said.
Both Rasmussen and Patang’s comments on reassuring Afghans of security come after the International Crisis Group released a report suggesting the country may face an economic, political and security crisis after 2014.
There are around 117,000 international soldiers, mostly Americans, fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. Most troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 after the Afghan soldiers take full security responsibility of the country.