WASHINGTON (INP): Washington is about to begin negotiations with Kabul on presence of special forces in Afghanistan, a senior administration official told US lawmakers.“We are about to begin those negotiations to come up with how many special forces there will be in Afghanistan after 2014,” David Sedney, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.“We have committed to drawing down our forces by the end of 2014, and ending a lead combat role.
But we have committed to continuing a presence in Afghanistan after 2014,” he said.“In the strategic partnership agreement that we signed with Afghanistan last month, we agreed to begin negotiations on a bilateral security agreement which will set the parameters for what that force is, including the participation of Special Forces after 2014,” Sedney said.
The strength of Afghan forces would be decreased by 120,000 to 230,000 by 2017.In April, the Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, discussed with his Afghan counterpart, Minister Wardak, and Minister of Interior Mohammadi in their security consultative forum in April and agreed to have a regular six- month review of where the Afghan security forces stand and what their future plans are.“The goal of something in the neighborhood of 230,000 by 2017 is one we broadly agreed to. But the actual pace and the character, the way we get there, is something we’ll be doing in these six-month reviews. In terms of what happens to those who might be demobilized, there’s a certain level of natural attrition,” he said.Responding to questions, Sedney said that figure certainly depends on the degrading of to Taliban. “Our campaign plan has been to degrade the Taliban, push the Taliban down, build up the Afghan security forces.
In our reviews, we’re gonna check and see whether that’s actually happening. But a much diminished Taliban, a much less effective Taliban, will require less forces. And that’s what that calculation is based on. But we’re gonna be looking at it every six months to see if, in fact, that’s happening,” he said.