By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Sept. 18, 2012 – The 33,000-man surge of U.S. forces into Afghanistan has achieved the goal set for it, and it will end on schedule at the end of the month, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
The end of the surge means only 68,000 American troops will remain in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said during an interview aboard a C-40 returning to Washington from Ankara, Turkey.
The intended purpose of the surge was “to buy us some time to push back on some Taliban initiatives -- particularly in the south and southwest -- and to buy us some space to grow the Afghan security forces,” Dempsey said. That objective clearly has been met, he added.
“During the surge, we grew the Afghan security forces by more than 50,000,” Dempsey said. Afghan soldiers and police now number about 340,000, and the Afghans are in the lead in providing security in most of the country. Afghan forces will grow to 352,000 soon.
Surge forces allowed to coalition to stop, and then to reverse, momentum the Taliban had established, the chairman said.
“The surge had its intended effect,” Dempsey added. “I think it was an effort that was worth the cost -- and don’t forget, it did have its cost. But I think it will prove, as we look back on it, to have set the conditions necessary for us to achieve the objectives by the end of 2014.”