WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 2, 2012) --- Retired Gen. Jack Keane pushed for continued U.S. assistance and funding for the Afghan National Security Forces, or ANSF, during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, June 29, 2012.
The hearing, titled "Expert Assessments on the Afghan National Security Forces: Resources, Strategy and Timetable for Security Lead Transition," was intended to glean opinions from top military personnel on what the next steps should be in preparing Afghan forces for a more independent role as U.S. troops continue their withdrawal from the country.
A former Army vice chief of staff, Keane mentioned that in certain areas of Afghanistan, the realization of Afghan military takeover depended heavily on U.S. aid, but other regions were not given the same amount of support and struggle because of it.
"We've had much success in the security situations since we applied the surge forces," Keane said. "We've begun the turn of momentum in the east. The frustration there is we don't have the force generation because of the pullout of the surge forces that we had in the south and southwest, I think, to be able to achieve the same kind of end state."
Although he argued that more troops were necessary for the transition, Keane expressed his faith in the Afghan National Security Forces', or ANSF's, ability to be self-sufficient.
"I believe the ANSF is a capable force," he said. "And it's beginning to stand up to the task of taking over from the United States and naval forces."
Keane also brought up four decisions that he believed would largely shape Afghanistan's security in 2014 and beyond. These include determining the amount of troops that will remain in Afghanistan, whether to decrease ANSF's budget, whether allied naval forces should stay to assist the ANSF, and whether the U.S. should destroy Taliban sanctuaries.
Keane views these four resolutions as key components in ensuring the ANSF's ability to effectively protect Afghanistan. He fervently argued that reducing troops and funding would be a major setback in the process of weaning Afghan security off U.S. backing.
"How can we expect the ANSF to protect the people with one-third less force only a year after we almost zero out the U.S. naval force of 100,000?" he said. "We spent over a decade investing in the training and equipping of the ANSF. By 2014 we will have the results of that investment. So why, after all these years of investing, would we gut that force and put the entire security mission at risk?"
To wrap up his assessment, Keane urged the HASC to keep following through with their help as U.S. presence in Afghanistan continues to subside.
"We are on the cusp of ending our participation in our longest war," he said. "Never before in our nation have so few served for so long on behalf of so many. This effort has enjoyed your support and it begs for your continued leadership and support as we begin to write the final chapters."