By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2012 – After the International Security Assistance Force mission ends in December 2014, Afghanistan will experience a period of hope combined with lots of challenges, the ISAF commander said today.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters via satellite from his command in Kabul, Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said Afghan security forces will be at full strength by 2015 with 352,000 members, and Afghanistan will have a new, democratically elected government.
Afghan forces will be fully in the lead for the security of the entire Afghan population, and they will be deployed in a manner to deal with violence
Apparent improvements in security will create opportunity for improved governance from both Afghanistan’s central government and the provincial governments throughout the nation, the general said.
Enhanced security has provided opportunity for improved governance at the at the local level, “which is really key for the Afghans -- increasingly key, even today, in some areas of Afghanistan where we have seen really dramatic improvements in security,” Allen said.
“This is now the moment for [Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s] administration to begin the process of concentrating on subprovincial and district governance and the establishment of the rule of law,” he said. As security continues to improve, he added, Afghanistan has the opportunity to improve subnational governance and give the Afghan people the chance to commit themselves to the government.
Allen noted by Jan. 1, 2015, Afghanistan will have new national leadership in place following democratic elections.
“So we will see a transition in  to a new administration and a new government with a new president,” he said. “And that president will have seen the period of time in the last 28 months, in the last several years, of the emergence of an Afghan national security force.”
The general described the 2015 Afghan security force as professionals willing to sacrifice mightily on behalf of the Afghan people to achieve a level of security to give the new administration, ministries and judiciaries the opportunity to become a part of Afghan citizens’ lives.
Allen also said the Afghan people will feel the reassurance of the international community as it fulfills the commitments to Afghanistan decided upon three months ago at NATO’s summit in Chicago.
““[Afghans will see] the promises that were made by the heads of state of the ISAF coalition in Chicago to continue to support and sustain the [Afghan national security forces] … with the right amount of resources.”
Afghanistan also will see support from some form of an international force in Afghanistan to provide for the continued professionalization and development of Afghan security forces, Allen said.
After the current transition is complete at the end of 2014, Allen said, a decade of transformation will follow.
“The international community, in close partnership with the new administration … will move forward to take advantage of the sacrifices that have been made by the troops of ISAF and the coalition and, increasingly, the sacrifices that are being made every single day by the [Afghan forces],” he said. “They will move forward together into the decade of transformation starting on the first day of January 2015, into what I believe will be a period of hope.”
But challenges lie ahead in the next 28 months, the general acknowledged, including the installation of governance, the embracing of rule of law, and rooting out corruption.
“I believe the Afghan people understand [that],” Allen said. “We will prove that the international community will not abandon Afghanistan.”