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It’s Not 2014 Either, Says NATO Envoy
Posted by on November 17th, 2010

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

Just days after the Obama administration stopped talking about 2011 entirely and started touting 2014 as the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, the NATO envoy in Kabul says we can forget that date too.

Mark Sedwill, the civilian counterpart to US commander General David Petraeus, also said that the target of handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan army and police by the end of 2014 might not be met.

The alliance's plan for the "transition" of responsibilities from Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the still embryonic Afghan army and police will be high on the agenda at this week's Nato summit in Lisbon.

Many European countries that contribute troops see the plan as their ticket out of an unpopular war, but Sedwill warned that success was not guaranteed and the 2014 date was merely an "inflection point" in a campaign that would continue for a long time. In some areas of the country transition could run "to 2015 and beyond" he said.

Although the alliance hopes that foreign-led counterinsurgency operations will come to an end, troops would still be required to train and support the Afghan security forces and maintain "a strategic over watch" position, he said.

He conceded that a "residual insurgency" was likely to continue in many parts of the country.

"There would still be a certain level of violence and probably levels of violence that by western standards will be pretty eye-watering," he said.

And Sedwill also trotted out a new buzz-phrase we're going to be hearing a lot of over the next five-plus years to justify endless occupation of a nation on the very ragged margins of US or NATO national security interests: "reinvest the transition". Which is the same old whack-a-mole by another name.

No wonder the new French defense minister, Alain Juppe, says that Afghanistan is "a trap for all the parties involved there". It's a trap mostly of our own making.

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