by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jan 28, 2016
The American general picked to head the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan said Thursday it would take years before Afghan forces are fully capable of independently controlling the country's security situation.
Lieutenant General John "Mick" Nicholson is slated to replace General John Campbell, whose nearly 18-month tour in Afghanistan is coming to an end.
Speaking to senior lawmakers at a confirmation hearing with the Senate Armed Service Committee, Nicholson praised Afghan troops as "born fighters," but said building aspects of the Afghan military is slow work, especially its air force and casualty evacuation capabilities.
"Although we've seen improvements ... in some areas we have years to go, in particular the aviation area," Nicholson said.
Just over one year ago, the NATO mission in Afghanistan transitioned into an Afghan operation, with allied nations assisting in training and equipping local forces to tackle the Taliban and other groups.
Since then, the Taliban have dealt some stinging blows to Afghan forces, including a short-lived takeover of the northern city of Kunduz.
Further complicating the fragile security situation is the emergence of Islamic State jihadists in parts of the country. They are trying to establish a base in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.
Senator John McCain, who heads the committee, asked Nicholson if he agreed that the overall security situation in Afghanistan was worsening.
"I agree with your assessment," Nicholson said.
Though several senators enthusiastically endorsed Nicholson's nomination, his confirmation still needs to be approved by the full Senate.
President Barack Obama in October announced that 9,800 US forces would remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016 -- backtracking on an earlier pledge to pull all but 1,000 US troops from the country.
Numbers would then be drawn down to 5,500 by January 2017, under current plans.
Among Nicholson's academic qualifications are bachelor's degrees from Georgetown University and the West Point military academy, as well as a master's in military art and science from the School for Advanced Military Studies.
News From Across The Stans
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|