WASHINGTON - A top Pentagon official on Thursday warned Al Qaeda’s safe havens in northeastern Afghanistan and the Afghan government’s limited capacity posed the biggest threat to consolidating security gains in the war-torn country.
“The threat of attacks against US interests in Afghanistan is likely to increase as US and allied direct support to security decreases,” nominated Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, Michael D Lumpkin, said in a set of written answers submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Nevertheless, this partnered campaign has provided increased security and stability for the Afghan population and the US continues to build upon this success,” Lumpkin said.
He expressed optimism Afghanistan’s highly-trained special operations forces were steadily growing, saying direct action operations must continue with due respect for cultural sensitivities and great care to prevent civilian casualties.
“Ultimately, the goal must be ensured that Afghan and international forces have the capabilities and authorities necessary to achieve the transition to a post-2014 structure, while also being mindful of the goal to increase Afghan ownership throughout the transition process,” he noted.
Responding to a question, he said: “Village Stability Operations (VSO) uses Afghan and ISAF special operations forces embedded in the community full-time to help improve security, governance, and development in remote areas of Afghanistan where the Afghan National Security Force and ISAF have a limited presence.”
He also warned safe havens of terrorist in the tribal areas of Pakistan continued to pose challenge to the Afghan security. "Terrorist sanctuary in the tribal areas of Pakistan will continue to challenge Afghan security," (Pajhwok)