Afghan Minister of Defense Bismullah Khan Mohammadi and Afghan Minister of Interior Mujtaba Patang hosted U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Miller in the fourth session of the U.S.—Afghanistan Security Consultations Forum (SCF) at the Ministry of Defense in Kabul, Afghanistan. Secretary Miller met with the ministers, joined by other senior defense officials from both countries. They discussed long-term defense cooperation between the two countries, reaffirmed the importance of the U.S. Afghan Strategic Partnership, and addressed issues of immediate importance.
The meetings included a review of security gains across Afghanistan and progress made towards transition of lead security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Secretary Miller and the ministers noted the accomplishments in the provinces and districts included in the first three tranches of transition. Approximately 75 percent of the Afghan population now lives in areas where Afghan forces are assuming the lead for security. The ANSF are successfully providing effective security in these transitioning areas, and increasingly demonstrating their readiness for additional responsibilities. The two sides presented their views on insurgent capabilities and intentions, the growth and future strength of the ANSF, and the ongoing efforts to accelerate Afghan enabling capabilities in command and control, maneuver, special operations forces, counter-IED, engineering, intelligence, airpower, fire support, and logistics.
The talks also identified three areas for close cooperation in future months. First, after hearing from key Afghan intelligence experts, Secretary Miller and the ministers decided to develop a combined assessment of security threats to Afghanistan. Second, they determined that the Afghans would use this combined threat assessment to develop their best estimate of the size and composition of the future ANSF, starting with the current force goal of 352,000 and considering carefully the Afghan Plan of Record recommendation of a reduced force of about 230,000. And, after a useful exchange of information and opinions, they agreed to continue collaboration to field and accelerate key combat enablers for the ANSF. They agreed to follow up on these three initiatives at the fifth meeting of the security consultations forum, and to continue staff level discussions to advance key issues.
The U.S.—Afghanistan Security Consultations Forum serves as a key venue for a bilateral strategic review of campaign progress and plans for the future. Secretary Miller and the ministers agreed to continue holding the forum every six months, with the next meeting convening in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2013.