New Ambassador: ‘No Rush for Exits’ in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2011 — U.S. Ambas­sador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crock­er told employ­ees dur­ing his first day on the job in the Afghan cap­i­tal of Kab­ul today that there will be “no rush for the exits” dur­ing this crit­i­cal tran­si­tion peri­od in Afghanistan.

Crock­er pre­sent­ed his diplo­mat­ic cre­den­tials to Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny at the pres­i­den­tial palace in Kab­ul.

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, who assumed com­mand of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan last week and served with Crock­er in Iraq, joined the ambas­sador at today’s cer­e­monies. Crock­er praised Allen’s capa­bil­i­ties and promised “full uni­ty of effort” to build on what Ambas­sador Karl W. Eiken­ber­ry and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, along with the rest of the coali­tion, already has accom­plished.

We are at a time of tran­si­tion in Afghanistan,” Crock­er said. “It is a time for us to step back and for the Afghans to step for­ward, as they are doing.”

Crock­er point­ed to last week’s suc­cess­ful secu­ri­ty tran­si­tion as an indi­ca­tor of progress the Afghans have achieved in recent years, but rec­og­nized the fragili­ty of that progress.

I think all of us — Amer­i­cans, coali­tion part­ners, the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty and the Afghan lead­er­ship — know that we must pro­ceed care­ful­ly,” he said. “There will be no rush for the exits. The way we do this in the months ahead will have con­se­quences far beyond Afghanistan and far into the future.”

The com­ing year will be crit­i­cal in set­ting the right path, Crock­er said, empha­siz­ing the impor­tance of think­ing through the tran­si­tion peri­od care­ful­ly and in con­sul­ta­tion with the Afghan gov­ern­ment.

Crock­er also warned of the “incal­cu­la­ble long-term effects and costs of get­ting it wrong” in Afghanistan.

We owe noth­ing less to the next gen­er­a­tion of Afghans, Amer­i­cans and oth­ers not to repeat the mis­takes of 20 years ago” that enabled the Tal­iban and al-Qai­da to seize pow­er there, he said.

As the tran­si­tion in Afghanistan con­tin­ues, Crock­er empha­sized the impor­tance of a con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to help­ing the Afghans build their insti­tu­tions and a bet­ter future for their peo­ple. That includes work­ing to con­clude a Strate­gic Part­ner­ship Dec­la­ra­tion that he said will cod­i­fy the long-term U.S. com­mit­ment to Afghanistan’s suc­cess.

Crock­er said the Unit­ed States has no inter­est in per­ma­nent bases in Afghanistan.

The pres­i­dent has said it, the sec­re­taries of State and Defense have said it, and I repeat it here,” he said. “We will stay as long as we need to, and not one day more. We have no inter­est in using Afghanistan as a plat­form to project influ­ence into neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. Our sole inter­est is in Afghanistan’s secu­ri­ty and sus­tain­able sta­bil­i­ty, and ensur­ing that it will nev­er again become a haven for inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism that pos­es a threat to the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty.”

Crock­er called on Afghanistan’s neigh­bors and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to become ful­ly invest­ed in that effort, through 2014 and beyond.

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