Afghanistan Plan Would Reduce NATO Combat Role

ISAF soldier guarding recruits at the Afghan National Police headquarters, December 13, 2011

From Thom Shanker, the New York Times:  The senior American commander in Afghanistan said Tuesday that his plans for next year would emphasize deploying American and allied military trainers directly within Afghan security units, which could lessen the direct combat role of NATO and accelerate local forces taking the lead in a growing number of missions.

The commander, Gen. John R. Allen of the Marine Corps, said he also was striving to consolidate security gains against Taliban forces in their traditional strongholds in the south and to counter insurgents crossing from Pakistan into volatile eastern Afghanistan. . . .

An accelerated program to install small numbers of allied military trainers within larger numbers of Afghan security units, as described by General Allen, certainly could help fulfill the American and NATO campaign plan — but with far fewer American troops.

At present, only smaller numbers of foreign trainers work within Afghan units. And where combat operations in the past have been carried out unilaterally by allied units, led by allied units or in partnership with Afghan forces, an emphasis on embedded trainers would put Afghans in the lead — but with a cadre of experienced officers and non-commissioned officers working with them from the inside.

These plans for what General Allen called an “increased advisory role” for American and allied troops within the Afghan national security forces will accelerate next year and be fully in place by 2014, when the current NATO mandate expires.  (photo: Reuters)

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