By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 20, 2012 – An International Security Assistance Force official charged with leading the transition to an Afghan-led security force says the plan is proceeding on schedule along with the anticipated completion of the NATO mission by the end of 2014.
In a briefing for Pentagon reporters via satellite from Afghanistan, British Army Brig. Gen. Richard Cripwell ISAF strategic transition group director, said “The importance of this process cannot be overstressed,” noting Afghan National Security Forces now have responsibility for the security 75 percent of the country’s population.
“The responsibility for leading security is not one they take lightly, but it is one that they relish,” he said. “In simple terms, they know what they have to do and they are proving that they can do it every day.”
During a NATO summit in Chicago last month, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai released details of stage three in a five-stage process to transition foreign forces from a combat to a support role while simultaneously grooming Afghan security forces to independently take security reins.
“As a result of that, every capital in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan is now into transition,” Cripwell said of the nation’s forces. “Their ability to plan and conduct operations is improving all the time and they are now routine.”
Cripwell expressed confidence that Afghan forces will stay invested in the process as the nation strengthens its security and sovereignty.
“Brigade operation requires a properly trained and indeed a resourced force,” the general said. “This is very serious soldiering [and] it’s a significant achievement on their part to have come this far in the time that they have.”
The general, however, did not dismiss challenges along the way, such as the spate of green on blue incidents in which some Afghans have attacked coalition members.
“Any death out here is an absolute tragedy and it is more so when it is caused by Afghan forces,” Cripwell said. “Every single day, there are tens of thousands and more ongoing relationships between ISAF forces and the Afghans. These attacks are absolutely not representative of the huge … majority of the Afghan forces and they are as dismayed by them as we are.”