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Dempsey Arrives in Afghanistan for Meetings, Consultations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan —

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived here tonight for a series of meetings with senior U.S. and coalition leaders and with American service members.

This is Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey’s second visit to Afghanistan in as many months.

His visit comes on the heels of the release of the semiannual Report of Security and Stability in Afghanistan. The report says that Afghan security forces did an excellent job in securing the April 5 presidential election in the country.

However, the report also said Afghan forces lack crucial capabilities: air support, the intelligence enterprise, special operations, and security ministry capacity.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is planning for its mission to end Dec. 31 and transition to Operation Resolute Support. This, however, is contingent upon Afghan leaders signing the bilateral security agreement with the United States.

The already negotiated and agreed-to pact would be a blueprint for other NATO and partner nations. Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign it means uncertainty for what follows the end of the ISAF mission. No coalition country can forecast its post-2014 presence, and the Taliban are trying to capitalize on the absence of an agreement to instill fear among Afghans.

The two top vote-getters in Afghanistan’s April 5 election will face off in a run-off election. Both candidates have said they will sign the security agreement.

While NATO planning has been for a post-2014 force of 8,000 to 12,000 troops to train and advise the Afghans, President Barack Obama has not yet decided on the number of U.S. troops that may be kept in Afghanistan if the Afghan government signs the agreement.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneAFPS)