In a video conference last night with United States Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani discussed a number of important issues regarding the existing capacity and capability of Afghan Security and Defense Forces.
President Ghani thanked the U.S. for its continued assistance in strengthening the security and defense of the country, and noted the essential importance of equipment, funding and training as the security partnership between Afghanistan and the international coalition continues.The President and Secretary Carter reviewed key lessons learned in 2015 and reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen the Afghan forces. President Ghani highlighted that his government’s strategy of Fight, Disrupt, Hold and Consolidate will continue to guide Afghan armed and defense forces operations to protect Afghans and defend the country.Secretary Carter briefed the President on important issues for next year including ANDSF funding for 2017, and emphasized that Afghanistan’s continuing improvements in securing the nation will justify continued financial support from the U.S. and other coalition members.On areas of focus, the President stressed the need to strengthen the Afghan Air Force, which has been making progress, and talked about plans and measures to further strengthen these forces and equip and train them. The need for rapid delivery of Mi-17 helicopters was further elaborated upon.Joining the President in the conference was CEO Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who raised the necessity of contingency forces to provide the flexibility to deal with unforeseen events. The President emphasized this as well.Also participating was Masoom Stanekzai, Acting Minister of Defense, who addressed the training of pilots as a critical issue, especially the conduct of overnight operations and the importance of acquiring and maintaining the necessary equipment to carry out these operations.The President and Secretary Carter discussed reforms and capacity building in the areas of budgetary and financial management of Afghanistan's security and defense institutions.President Ghani stressed the critical importance of aid and support from the U.S. and other international partners, and Afghanistan’s commitment to the effective use of that aid to help secure and defend the country.In addition to President Ghani, CEO Abdullah and Minister Stanekzai, others participating in the video conference included Minister of Finance Eklil Hakimi, Afghanistan Ambassador to the U.S. Hamdullah Mohib, NATO Resolute Support Commander General John Campbell, and U.S. Central Command commander General Lloyd Austin.