The Skeptics

"2014 Is Not a Withdrawal Date—It’s an Inflection Point"

In case you were somehow under the belief that the United States would be withdrawing from Afghanistan by 2014, “liberal realist” and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Fluornoy says, around 34:00 into this video, that

The plan was laid out at the NATO summit in Lisbon, and what it calls for is the transition process for transferring lead responsibility for security to the Afghans, to be completed by the end of 2014, and we believe we’re on track to do that.

That said, the Afghan forces at that time will be largely infantry battalions, police, and so forth. They are still going to need support from the international community in terms of enablers, such as mobility, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and so forth, so it will take some time before they have all the enablers necessary.

They’re going to need some continued support, and they’re also going to need some advising and assisting. And so we, and NATO also, have been negotiating a strategic partnership agreement with the Afghan government that would lay out an enduring strategic partnership far into the future.

Obviously that will have economic dimensions, diplomatic, other dimensions, but one of the dimensions on the security side is, at the invitation of the Afghan government, we will continue to have a partnership force in place that really provides advising, assisting, continued support to the Afghan National Security Forces for quite some time. So 2014 is not a withdrawal date—it’s an inflection point where we put Afghans firmly in the lead and we step back into a consistently supporting role, but with much lower numbers of troops.

Good to get that cleared up.