US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates believes that the Taliban may be driven out of Afghanistan as early as the end of 2011 - a year that has been pronounced 'critical' by Gates. At the same time spokesman of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Josef Blotz, has announced that NATO will donate weapons, vehicles and airplanes worth more than $10 billion to Afghan Security Forces (ASFs) till 2014. The statements by these two and other US authorities signal that the process of transition of security responsibilities and gradual withdrawal of international forces would be made practical by strengthening the ASFs and weakening the Taliban.
There are serious concerns over the capacity of Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP). It is conceived that these two organizations would need more time and mentoring to become competent enough to defend Afghanistan on their own. It seems like with the announcement of withdrawal plan from Afghanistan the pace of training and equipping ASF has been increased. It has been planned that more than $11 billion dollars will be spent on the capacity building of ASFs only in 2011. These are all welcoming. But support should not be limited to 2014. Afghanistan needs international support for longer terms.
If the withdrawal process is not possible without making ASFs competent, at the same time troops can be pulled out of Afghanistan in the set period without weakening the Taliban. There is no doubt that there have important improvements against Taliban and they have been compelled to leave even their strongholds in some regions of Afghanistan but the process needs to continue with consistency. Also, there should be remedial measures to counter the changing tactics of Taliban – if Taliban have moved back from some of their areas, they have intensified suicide bombings and target killings.
The international troops, at current, can not have presence in Afghanistan for long terms, majorly because of public and economic pressures. That's why the withdrawal plan has been set. This plan can not be successfully implemented without defeating Taliban and boosting the ASFs.