The commander leading NATO forces in Afghanistan told American lawmakers recently that Afghan soldiers are among the best in the region, and that the country’s leaders are taking bold steps to ensure long-term stability.
U.S. Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support Mission aiding the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee recently.
The general said that Afghanistan’s national security forces remain in the lead in ongoing operations against various insurgent groups in the country. He said the 17,000 Afghan commandos in service are “the best in the region” and that they operate independently on about 80 percent of their missions.
Nicholson also said that the ever-improving capability of the Afghan Air Force, which has added A-29 fighter planes and MD-530 attack helicopters in recent years, provides the national security forces an advantage that will ultimately lead to victory over the criminal militant groups.
“Our objective is to destroy (terrorism) in Afghanistan,” he told the American senators. “The Afghans are now doing most of the fighting.”
This comes as good news to the Afghan people, who do not want to see a return to the oppressive regime of the Taliban, Nicholson said.
The general said his team has “an exceptional partnership” with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who he credited with “making bold reforms and implementing anti-corruption measures to professionalize and improve the Afghan security forces.”
Among those reforms has been the implementation of a biometric enrollment system for Afghan soldiers, improving payroll accuracy, he said.
Additionally, Nicholson told the committee that the Afghan government is committed to bringing peace through reconciliation with Taliban members who truly want to build a safe and prosperous country.
The government has invited insurgents to join the peace process all around the country, and many, recognizing the inevitability of defeat at the hands of the better trained and equipped ANDSF, have agreed. Just last week, one of the Taliban’s top leaders in Nangarhar joined the peace process.
For those who continue fighting against progress and stability in Afghanistan, he said, NATO forces are committed to working alongside their Afghan colleagues to bring about victory on the battlefield.
“With Afghan President Ghani, we are on an ‘ANDSF Roadmap’ for the way ahead – the population and government want us here,” he said.