By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2013 – Afghan security forces are in the
lead and continue to grow in capacity and capability in the fight
against insurgents, the commander of the International Security
Assistance Force’s Regional Command-East said today.
Army Maj. Gen. James C. McConville also told Pentagon reporters via
satellite that even with the progress made by Afghanistan’s security
forces they are likely to need U.S. support beyond 2014.
forces are winning, he said, but aren’t yet dominating the enemy in a
way that takes away their will to fight. It will also take time before
the Afghan air force is at full capacity, the general said.
However, when the Afghan air force reaches full capacity, he said, the
enemies of Afghanistan “are not going to be willing to continue the
Meanwhile, ISAF’s draw down is progressing, McConville
said. Since March, he noted, the number of coalition bases has declined
from 58 to 17.
“We have moved into an advise-and-assist role,”
said McConville, who’s also the commander of the 101st Airborne
Division. “Afghan security forces are in the lead [and] they are doing
most of the fighting.”
Two Afghan army corps -- the 201st and the
202nd -- operate in Regional Command-East. Those units, McConville
said, are currently conducting integrated operations involving ground
troops with indirect-fire and air support.
“In fact, the 201st
just did the largest air assault in recent Afghan history with six
Mi-17s and two Mi-35 [helicopters],” he said.
As Afghan forces
have taken a higher-profile role in securing Afghanistan, the enemy is
facing a propaganda problem, the general said.
“They used to be
able to say that they were fighting foreign occupiers,” he said, “and
they can no longer really say that anymore because they're fighting
Afghan security forces and they're fighting against the Afghan people.”
There are only about two months left in the fighting season in
Afghanistan, McConville said. And, with winter approaching and the holy
month of Ramadan over, the general said he expects the enemy to come out
“We're expecting a spike in violence,” he said. “We
expect the enemies of the Afghan people to come out and try to achieve
those objectives that they've not been able to achieve.”
Now is a critical time, McConville said.
“This is the first time that the Afghan security forces have been in
the lead during the entire fighting season,” he said. “And they believe
they're winning and I tend to agree with them.”