US rules out change in Afghan strategy

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Washington, Feb 24: The White House has ruled out any change in Afghan strategy in particular on drawdown of troops from the war-torn country.

But it said that President Barack Obama remains open to the idea of tailoring his strategy based on advice from the senior military leadership.

afghanistan army

"The strategy that the President has laid out is one that he continues to have confidence in," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

He said around 10,000 American troops have been serving in Afghanistan fulfilling two important functions. The first is carrying out counterterrorism operations where necessary, but also continuing to partner with Afghan security forces to train, advise, and equip them.

Those efforts are ongoing and Afghan government officials indicate that they believe that operation has been useful and beneficial to their ongoing efforts to try to secure their country, he added.

"The President remains committed to those two tasks and believes that the strategy that he's laid out so far is one that can accomplish those tasks. But the President continues to be open to taking advice from his military leadership, from the senior members of his national security team, to tailor that strategy to reflect the situation on the ground," Earnest said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to arrive in the US soon to hold talks with Obama at the White House. "I'm confident this will be part of some of the discussions that we'll have with President Ghani when he’ is in Washington," the Press Secretary said.

Obama, he said, has been very clear about the US strategy in Afghanistan.

"This strategy has been done in careful consultation with our military leaders, including our generals on the ground. It's been done in careful consultation with other senior members of the President's national security team, including National Security Council staff here at the White House, as well as our diplomats and our intelligence officers," he said.

"We've also worked carefully with the Afghan government. Because ultimately, there has been a partnership, useful partnership between the US and the broader international community and the Afghan government as that government and their security forces have taken on more responsibility for securing their own country," he said.

"Afghan security forces are now responsible for the security situation in their country. We've handed over that responsibility to them I believe at the end of last year. So what now is in place is an effort to continue to bolster their capacity to safeguard their country," Earnest said.

"The President continues to be mindful of the security situation on the ground, of the contributions that are being made by our NATO allies to this broader effort, and we're going to continue to tailor the strategy to reflect the situation on the ground with, of course, a careful focus on the implications for American national security," he added.

PTI

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