Nato ministers consider withdrawal from Afghanistan

 

Nato's top official has joined the US and France in calling for Afghan forces to take the lead in all combat operations by mid-2013, while continuing to help in fighting the Taliban.

Both US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have suggested in recent days that the coalition should gradually move out of combat in 2013.

Government forces are supposed to assume responsibility for the war at the end of 2014, when the coalition is expected to end its participation in the war.

The 2014 date was adopted by Nato leaders at a summit in Lisbon in November 2010. Until now, it was widely assumed that coalition forces would remain in a combat role until the end of 2014.

Speaking to reporters before a two-day meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels, Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Afghanistan remains the alliance's top operational priority, and that the coalition has been making progress in the war.

He said transition to Afghan security control, which started last year, will continue through mid-2013 with the Afghan army and police gradually taking the lead in all regions of the country.

"From that time the Afghan security forces are in the lead all over Afghanistan, and from that time the role of our troops will gradually change from combat to support," he said.

This process will conclude at the end of 2014, when government forces are scheduled to assume full responsibility for security in the entire country, Fogh Rasmussen said. The allies are working on the details of a longterm partnership with Afghanistan.

"But Afghans will not be left alone at the end of the transition process. We are committed to providing support to Afghanistan through transition and beyond," Fogh Rasmussen said.

Speaking to reporters on the flight to Brussels, Panetta said: "Hopefully by the mid to latter part of 2013 we'll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise and assist role."

He added that this "doesn't mean we're not going to be combat-ready," but rather that the US and other international forces will no longer be in "the formal combat role we're in now."

The ministerial meeting comes a day after a secret Nato report was leaked to the media suggesting that insurgent morale remains extremely high after more than a decade of war and that the Taliban remain confident they will defeat the coalition.

It also follows a series of attacks by members of Afghan forces on Nato troops or advisers.

AP

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam