While the Afghan army has taken over lead control of their country, the U.S. troops won’t be withdrawing quite yet. Troops will remain in the middle eastern nation until 2014 to fill in any gaps in the Afghan forces. While this may not be the end for U.S. troops, expect to see other nations completely withdraw soon.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said the Afghan military may need some operational support beyond the planned end of combat operations there in late 2014.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said he is assessing the Afghan forces’ “capability gaps” to determine whether “the gaps are significant enough…for us to consider filling” after 2014.
Pentagon officials recently acknowledged they are considering a so-called “bridging force” to help the Afghans fight the Taliban insurgents beyond December 2014.
The nature of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan remains unclear. Military officials say the U.S. is committed to providing long-term support to the Afghan military in an advisory role at the corps level, but questions remain about the level of tactical or operational support U.S troops may continue to provide beyond 2014.
Dunford, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon through a satellite link from his headquarters in Kabul, said he was not familiar with the term “bridging force,” but the idea is under consideration.
“If what you mean by ‘bridging force’ is that we will provide close-air support, intelligence support, logistics support — those are exactly the areas that I will assess and make a recommendation on come the fall,” Dunford said.
The term “bridging force” first emerged in May in a report co-authored by Dunford’s predecessor, Marine Gen. John Allen, who recently retired.
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