WASHINGTON — The Afghan defense minister warned late Feb. 17 that a U.S. proposal to cut the size of Afghan security forces by more than one-third after 2014 could lead to a catastrophe.
The minister, Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, expressed his concerns in an interview with The Wall Street Journal after the United States circulated a new proposal to cut troops from 352,000 to 230,000 after 2014.
“Nobody at this moment, based on any type of analysis, can predict what will be the security situation in 2014. That’s unpredictable,” Wardak is quoted by the paper as saying.
“Going lower has to be based on realities on the ground,” he warned.
“Otherwise it will be a disaster, it will be a catastrophe, putting at risk all that we have accomplished together with so much sacrifice in blood and treasure.”
The proposed troop reduction, discussed at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ministerial meeting in Brussels, was confirmed to The Journal by U.S. Army Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger, commander of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan that developed it.
The smaller Afghan force, estimated to cost some $4.1 billion a year, reflects “our assessment of what the international community will provide and what the Afghans can provide for themselves,” Bolger said.
However the U.S. general stressed that the proposal was produced by a “U.S.-only planning team,” and was not an agreed position of the allied governments.