Allen to Examine Afghanistan Force Package

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2012 — The start­ing point of analy­sis for the U.S.-coalition fight­ing force in Afghanistan in 2013 will be the with­draw­al of 23,000 surge troops after this year’s fight­ing sea­son, the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force com­man­der said yes­ter­day.

“After we recov­er the surge, I’m going to give the Pres­i­dent some options, with respect to the kinds of com­bat pow­er that we will need in 2013,” Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said dur­ing an inter­view with PBS’s Char­lie Rose.

“I have to eval­u­ate the state of the insur­gency and have to look at the oper­a­tional envi­ron­ment in 2013,” he added. “And the com­bi­na­tion of forces ulti­mate­ly will be the dis­tin­guish­ing dimen­sion of the rec­om­men­da­tion that I’ll give to the pres­i­dent.”

Allen empha­sized there will be more than just a U.S. force pres­ence in Afghanistan fol­low­ing the with­draw­al of the 23,000 U.S. surge forces.

“It’s not just about 68,000 U.S. forces. There will still be 40,000 ISAF forces as well so the rec­om­men­da­tion will also go up to the NATO chain,” he not­ed. “But there will also be an increas­ing­ly capa­ble and increas­ing­ly numer­ous ANSF as well, so it isn’t just a rec­om­men­da­tion about 68,000.

“I owe the pres­i­dent analy­sis of that,” the gen­er­al con­tin­ued, “and … my views on the cours­es of action of how much com­bat pow­er will be need­ed in 2013.”

Allen said he wouldn’t spec­u­late as to how many troops would be nec­es­sary.

“I don’t know yet exact­ly how much force I’m going to need among the U.S. forces in 2013,” he said. “It isn’t just a sin­gle num­ber — it’s a com­pos­ite num­ber and that’s the key point. It’s the U.S. force as a com­po­nent of ISAF and in part­ner­ship with the ANSF. That is the key issue.”

Allen not­ed there will be inter­na­tion­al dis­cus­sion between ISAF part­ners about the remain­ing pres­ence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

“We’re con­stant­ly in con­ver­sa­tion about the strate­gic part­ner­ship that’s com­ing,” he said. “We’re in con­ver­sa­tion about the future and the role of U.S. forces today, and ISAF and NATO forces over the long term.”

Allen advised the Tal­iban to “lis­ten close­ly” to con­ver­sa­tions unfold­ing between the U.S., Afghanistan and inter­na­tion­al part­ners.

“First of all, in the Bonn Two Con­fer­ence recent­ly, there was a very clear deter­mi­na­tion by the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to sup­port Afghanistan well beyond the con­cept of tran­si­tion which ends at the end of 2014,” he said.

“It means that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty is inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing sta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan and sup­port­ing Afghanistan with devel­op­ment and that process is begin­ning to unfold,” Allen said, adding that dur­ing a Chica­go con­fer­ence in May, the heads of state of ISAF nations will dis­cuss a long-term secu­ri­ty rela­tion­ship with Afghanistan.

Allen said the idea is to sup­port Afghanistan in a secu­ri­ty mode for a peri­od of time beyond 2014. It would be “faulty assump­tion,” he said, for the Tal­iban to believe Decem­ber 31, 2014, was the end of the inter­na­tion­al pres­ence in Afghanistan.

“There will be an inter­na­tion­al pres­ence in Afghanistan for a very long time,” Allen said, not­ing there will be gov­ern­ment, diplo­mat­ic and eco­nom­ic rela­tion­ships.

“But there will also be, very impor­tant­ly, a secu­ri­ty rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States and Afghanistan [and] the broad­er inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty as well,” the gen­er­al said.

Allen reaf­firmed his com­mit­ment to accom­plish­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s goals in Afghanistan and he not­ed that the time­line for with­draw was not a hin­drance.

“I believe we can achieve this mis­sion,” he said. “The cam­paign as it is unfold­ing, the cam­paign as we have devel­oped it, and as it is being resourced right now, is a cam­paign which I believe can accom­plish this mis­sion based on the con­cept of Lis­bon-based tran­si­tion. And, in the after­math of that, an endur­ing pres­ence.

“And that inter­na­tion­al force will be there to con­tin­ue the devel­op­ment of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces,” Allen added.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)