Karzai Announces Areas to Transition to Afghan Control

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2011 — Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai announced the first sev­en areas of his coun­try that will tran­si­tion to full Afghan secu­ri­ty con­trol.
The announce­ment marks the begin­ning of the process that will see Afghan forces respon­si­ble for secu­ri­ty across the whole coun­try by the end of 2014.

In a speech in the Afghan cap­i­tal of Kab­ul, Karzai announced that the area around Kab­ul -– except the Saro­bi dis­trict –- will tran­si­tion. Afghan forces already are in charge of secu­ri­ty for most of the area. 

Offi­cials in Afghanistan and the Unit­ed States stressed this was an Afghan decision. 

“This her­alds the begin­ning of the tran­si­tion process for those areas,” said Army Lt. Col. Beth Rob­bins, a Pen­ta­gon spokeswoman. 

Oth­er areas that will tran­si­tion are Pan­jshi and Bamiyan provinces, the city of Her­at in west­ern Afghanistan and the city of Lashkar Gah in Hel­mand province. 

Afghan forces will take the lead in Balkh province’s cap­i­tal of Mazar-e-Sherif and in Lagh­man province’s Methal­am city. 

The announce­ment fol­lows a care­ful process in choos­ing the areas. A joint Afghan-NATO group exam­ined the capa­bil­i­ties of Afghan forces and areas where the secu­ri­ty, gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment process­es are suf­fi­cient­ly advanced. The con­clu­sions were for­ward­ed to NATO defense min­is­ters, who accept­ed the rec­om­men­da­tions dur­ing a meet­ing ear­li­er this month. But the tran­si­tion deci­sion was com­plete­ly in Karzai’s hands, offi­cials said. 

“We under­stand tak­ing com­plete respon­si­bil­i­ty of gov­er­nance, secu­ri­ty and recon­struc­tion in our coun­try is not an easy task in a sit­u­a­tion in which, on one hand we suf­fer from the lega­cy of 30 years of war, and on the oth­er hand destruc­tion and inter­fer­ence is still going on,” Karzai said, accord­ing to a trans­la­tion of his speech at the Nation­al Mil­i­tary Acad­e­my. “We know that the peo­ple of Afghanistan do not want the defense of their coun­try to be on oth­ers, and also those who have helped us dur­ing the last 10 years can­not afford any more sac­ri­fices for our secu­ri­ty and defense. 

“This is also for the sake of this rea­son,” he con­tin­ued, “that we have agreed with the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty that the Afghan gov­ern­ment respon­si­bil­i­ties should be hand­ed over to Afghans.” 

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

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