From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO: Let me stress, we will stick to the Lisbon Road Map and complete transition by the end of 2014. That road map is actually based on a timeline outlined by President Karzai himself before the Lisbon Summit. He presented the goal to see the Afghan Security Forces take full responsibility for the security by the end of 2014. And we stick to that.
However, in order to actually complete transition by the end of 2014, we need to hand over the last provinces and districts to lead Afghan responsibility at a certain time in 2013. Because based on experience it takes between 12 and 18 months to actually fully implement a transition.
So if the whole of the transition is to be completed by the end of 2014 we’ll have to hand over the last provinces to lead Afghan responsibility by mid-2013, or at the latest in the second half of 2013. That’s why the year 2013 has suddenly been mentioned. It’s not about accelerating the transition process, but it’s actually in order to stick to the Lisbon Road Map that we have to take 2013 into account.
And from the time when we have handed over all provinces to lead Afghan responsibility, we will, of course, gradually change the role of our forces from combat to support, but we will continue our combat operations and be prepared to conduct combat operations until the end of 2014. That is throughout the whole transition period.
I hope this explanation clarifies the confusion that sometimes has been created about the year 2013, 2014. This discussion does not change the overall road map as it was outlined in Lisbon. We stick to the Lisbon Road Map.
Excerpt from press briefing by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. (photo: NATO)