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Update: The Obama Administration has expressed an interest in open peace talks with the Taliban.
The 12 year long U.S-led war against the Taliban in Afghanistan reaches a turning point today. Afghan forces are now the primary group responsible for providing national security. American and NATO military forces will now operate in a supporting role. It also opens the way for their full withdrawal in 18 months.
AP: “This is a historic moment for our country and from tomorrow all of the security operations will be in the hands of the Afghan security forces,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai said at a ceremony marking the occasion, held at the new National Defense University built to train Afghanistan’s future military officers.
Karzai said that in the coming months, coalition forces will gradually withdraw from Afghanistan’s provinces as the country’s security forces replace them.
In announcing the fifth and final phase of a process that began at a November 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, Karzai said “transition will be completed and Afghan security forces will lead and conduct all operations.”
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the coalition will help militarily if and when needed but will no longer plan, execute or lead operations.
Alliance training since 2009 dramatically increased the size of the Afghan National Security Forces, bringing them up from 40,000 men and women six years ago to about 352,000 today. After transition, coalition troops will move entirely into a supporting role — training and mentoring, and in emergency situations providing the Afghans backup in combat, mainly in the form of airstrikes and medical evacuation.
Foreign forces will continue to support Afghans on the battlefield when they require it, but the Afghan army and police will be responsible for planning and leading military operations against the insurgency.
Today’s Question: Was the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan worth fighting?