25 September 2014
With the British deployment to Afghanistan coming to an end, Chief of the Defense Staff of the British Armed Forces Gen. Sir Nicholas Houghton stated that the United Kingdom will continue to support Afghanistan, stressing, however, that military and combat responsibilities now lie mainly with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
"Our legacy is one of political achievement, one of security achievement and one of developmental achievement," Houghton said in an exclusive interview with TOLOnews. "I think it's now the Afghans' responsibility to exploit that opportunity, but I also think it is the international community's responsibility to continue to support Afghanistan from a military perceptive to the Afghanistan national security forces," adding that Britain will continue an "advisory role" as the ANSF continue their training and capacity-building.
"The Americans and ourselves will continue to assist in the development of Afghanistan's counter-terrorism capability, but it is not the United Kingdom's position that we ourselves be involved in the counter-terrorist operations."
Moreover, Houghton expressed optimism about the abilities of the ANSF to takeover after the drawdown of foreign forces, adding that the security forces are now up against the 'residual state of Taliban insurgency,' and will be successful in defying threats.
He praised the ANSF's performance during both rounds of the presidential elections calling it an "immaculate security operation", which allowed millions of Afghans to brave the threats of insurgents to partake in this year's, prolonged, presidential election. Houghton applauded the ANSF adding that the security forces "won this fighting season against the Taliban."
Houghton emphasized that the advancements made by the ANSF will be supported by the international community until 2017.
"We have built up the Afghan security forces to this significant scale and international pledges of money will be able to maintain that till 2017."
In the end, Houghton stated that it would be "wrong" for the international community to continue combat operations in Afghanistan, but emphasized that their help in tactical levels are still much needed.
Since 2003, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) UK forces in Afghanistan have continued combat operations under the name "Operation Herrick." The operation is planned to come to an end on December 31, 2014. British officials have confirmed that the forces would leave the country as planned.