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Afghan forces capable of transition, observers say
Recent responses to co-ordinated attacks show capabilities
By Zia Ur Rehman
KABUL – The response by Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to recent terrorist attacks demonstrates the forces’ capabilities and strength, security analysts and parliamentarians say, adding that such attacks cannot disrupt the transition of security control to Afghan forces.
Security in several insurgency-hit provinces and districts has already been handed over to Afghan security forces, and Afghans have adequately assumed the responsibility, analysts say.
“They (Taliban) should be informed that Afghan security forces are much readier today, much better equipped and trained today, and whenever they attack the Afghans, they will be killed,” Dawood Ahmadi, a Helmand government spokesman, told Aryana News May 11.
Afghan security forces are well-equipped, well-trained and capable of launching special operations against anti-peace elements in the country, said Shukria Barakzai, an Afghan parliamentarian and former chairwoman of the parliamentary defence committee.
“The Afghan National Army was one of the world’s top armies without any help of foreign countries before it broke up into regional militias during the fierce civil war in the 1990s,” Barakzai told Central Asia Online. “Now, it is again set to secure and stabilise its country by itself.”
ANSF have successfully dealt with a number of high-profile attacks, including a siege by the Taliban June 22 at a hotel near Kabul.
“I was so proud of our forces for their co-ordination and rapid reaction in April,” Israr Ahmed Karimzai, a political leader of Awakened Youth of Afghanistan, told Central Asia Online, referring to an April 15 incident in which ANSF responded to a series of attacks in Kabul and in a few remote provinces and killed or captured many of the suicide attackers in a matter of hours.
ANSF took light casualties, media reported, but Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security announced that two would-be suicide bombers were captured alive before they could reach their intended targets.
Because ANSF are gaining strength and trust, Afghan people have demanded the handing over of all security responsibilities to ANSF, analysts and parliamentarians say.
That hasn’t always been the case.
“A few years ago, one of the most pressing issues facing ANSF was that some soldiers and officers recruited were affiliated with the Taliban, anti-Soviet mujahideen and tribal warlords,” said Gen. (ret.) Abdul Wahid Taqat, a former intelligence officer and a security analyst.
However, he said, two years ago, the government formed a special military intelligence cell to identify such elements within the security forces, easing that problem.
A central part of the international strategy in Afghanistan is to build ANSF so that it can progressively take over the country’s security responsibilities.
In March 2011, President Hamid Karzai announced the first phase of the security transfer and some areas – Panjshir and Bamiyan provinces, Kabul Province except the eastern district of Surobi and four cities – came under the auspices of ANSF in July 2011.
Later in 2011, ANSF was made responsible for the security of six more provinces, seven cities, and 40 rural districts.
And plans are under way for ANSF to take control of Uruzgan, Kapisa and Parwan provinces, Aimal Faizai, presidential spokesman, said in Kabul May 14.
“Considering their capabilities, there will be no security gap as the French troops leave,” Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi said June 11 in assessing the transfer of responsibility.
The international community will provide $4.1 billion (205 billion AFN) annually to support the forces and the Afghan government would also allocate $500m (25 billion AFN) a year, he said.
Afghans hail security transfer
Afghan command of security responsibilities has helped reduce violence and civilian casualties, many Afghans say.
“We have been monitoring areas in the first and second phase of transition and note that violence has decreased significantly,” Abdul Hadi Khpalwak, a Kandahar-based tribal elder, told Central Asia Online.
Insurgent attacks in Afghanistan decreased 43 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same period last year, according to a report by the Afghan NGO Safety Office (ANSO), an independent monitoring group.
“Afghans know how to deal with Afghans, and this will help the Afghan government and international community on attaining peace and stabilisation rapidly,” Khpalwak said.