American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2012 – A memorandum of understanding between the United States and Afghanistan on special operations acknowledges the paradigm shift occurring in the country, a senior Pentagon spokesman said today.
Navy Capt. John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, said the memo, signed yesterday, codifies what is happening in the country, as the Afghans are assuming more and more control for their own security.
“Not a lot is different,” Kirby said in a conference call from the Afghan capital of Kabul. In November 2011, the Afghan government convened a national conference of local elders and community leaders that called for the government to “Afghanize” the security situation, and especially to take control of night operations. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, accelerated a process that already was under way to have Afghan forces lead those operations, Kirby said.
“Since December of last year, all – 100 percent – [of these missions] have been Afghan-led,” Kirby said. “The process embedded in the MOU is really just formalizing a process that’s been in effect since late last year.”
Neither those involved in the operations nor the enemy will see a discernible difference, Kirby said. “Those involved understand the need for secrecy, agility and speed,” he said. The process in place will allow the operations to move forward as quickly as actionable intelligence is available, he added.
The paradigm shift has come about because Afghan forces are getting better and want to take the lead, Kirby said. The United States will continue to provide support to Afghan special operations forces, he noted. This includes aircraft, intelligence support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. But the people acting on the intelligence, planning the operation and leading it are Afghans, he added.
In the months ahead, Kirby said, this same paradigm shift will accelerate so the same process will work with more Afghan conventional forces and police forces. Some Afghan conventional and police forces already are capable of providing security, and that number will grow in the near future, he added.