Calling 2014 the deadliest in 13 years and full of challenges, the defence minister on Wednesday said Afghan forces had the ability to deal with resurgent militants.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for 240 officers at the Kabul Military Academy, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi said the ongoing year was full of violence and saw increased attacks, including some high-profile strikes.
However, he said the Afghan National Army (ANA) had the ability to defend the country from threats posed by insurgents. “This year we underwent two major challenges -- the security transition from foreign forces to Afghans and the political transition of power.”
“We are happy the military transition has been successful. Four phases of the switch had gone and the final phase will be completed in next four months, when all responsibilities will be handed over to Afghan forces,” Mohammadi said.
He praised NATO and ISAF for what he said their hard efforts and cooperation with Afghanistan. Some 100,000 foreign troops had left and the rest would leave within four months, he said.
Foreign forces are expected to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 but about 10,000 troops would stay if the security arrangements are reached between Afghanistan and US/NATO allies. The number of Afghan forces has reached 350,000 personnel.
Mohammadi said militants had been thinking they would defeat Afghan forces after NATO forces’ withdrawal, but Afghan forces were strong enough to defend the country.
He said it was heartening the election tensions had come to an end and hoped the new government would start functioning soon.
“As Afghan forces have shown neutrality during the election process, we don't want them to get involved in politics,” he said. Mohammadi thanked the outgoing president for his efforts to equip the army and services toward the country’s development during the past 13 years.
“President Hamid Karzai has always welcomed our requests regarding equipping the Afghan National Army and has readily cooperated with us in improving the defence sector,” he concluded.