Washington — Afghan national forces are taking the lead in providing security in districts that cover 75 percent of the population in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General James Terry says.
Taliban insurgents are still threatening and have been deadly at times, and they are trying to stay relevant, but their position is “continually eroding,” Terry said in a wide-reaching press briefing at the Pentagon September 5.
“The insurgency is facing a progressively more capable Afghan national security force, which is bearing every day an increasingly larger burden as it moves into the lead for security here in Afghanistan,” Terry said.
Terry, who is the commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command and deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, briefed journalists in Washington via teleconference from his headquarters in Kabul. He is also the commanding general of the U.S. Army V Corps.
The Taliban insurgency campaign of intimidation and assassination is working against them, and their leadership is under constant pressure, and their resources are strained, Terry added. The majority of Afghans are war weary and, “more importantly, they’re tired of the heavy-handed approach of the insurgency, an insurgency that attempts to control the people of Afghanistan by limiting their education, controlling their freedom of movement and intimidating them,” he said.
Terry said the combined team of allied forces and Afghan security forces is moving forward into the next 28 months in a steady transition of the Afghan military taking the lead by the end of 2014, which was established at the 2010 Lisbon NATO Summit.
“The surge [of U.S. and allied forces] has served to break the momentum of insurgency and has provided the time and space for our Afghan partners to develop,” Terry told journalists. “Our aim is to establish a more stable Afghanistan secured by Afghan national security forces, which then affords an opportunity to develop the institutions of government.”
Terry said that allied forces working with the Afghan leadership and the military and police are setting the conditions for Afghanistan to contribute to regional stability and the achievement of preventing the country from ever being used again by extremists as a safe haven.
“The recent progress in the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] is enabling a shift from a coalition-led counterinsurgency approach to an ANSF-led counterinsurgency operation supported by ISAF,” he said.
The progress is being made by employing an array of ISAF activities to develop the full effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces that includes partnering, advising and enabling. Each allied advisory team has been intentionally designed to advise, assist and build capability within the army and the police, he added.
Terry said that the Taliban insurgents have been attempting to divide the coalition from its Afghan partners out of a fear of the increasingly stronger Afghan national security force. “The insurgency is continuously degraded and discredited,” he said.
Terry added that the recent insider attacks by some Afghan personnel against coalition personnel are a threat recognized by the Afghan leadership, the police and the army, as well as the ISAF leadership. “We are committed to stopping it," he said.
“Indeed, Afghans must find their own solutions as they take the lead,” Terry said. And one major step has been a stronger emphasis on background checks on those seeking to join the national army and police, he said.