Despite Gains, Leader of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Says Troops Must Stay
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan forces are now leading the fight here. They managed an air assault last week, for example, and they may be winning the respect of the Afghan people. But the bottom line for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. is simple: Afghanistan still needs the United States and will for years to come.
The problem for General Dunford, the commander of American and allied forces here, is that most Americans no longer seem to believe that the United States needs the war in Afghanistan.
In an interview on Sunday that he had requested, General Dunford, 58, sought to counter an abundance of disheartening news recently about the war and to make a case for why American troops need to stay in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends next year.
A central theme in his pitch: Americans will not be fighting and dying here after 2014. Afghans are already doing most of the fighting, he said, and by the end of next year “the actual fighting on a day-to-day basis will all be done by Afghans.”
Still, “Afghan forces, at the end of 2014, won’t be completely independent,” he said. “Our presence post-2014 is necessary for the gains we have made to date to be sustainable.”
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