U.S. transfers control of special ops to Afghan forces

The United States will hand over control of all special operations, including night raids, to Afghan security forces beginning this month, according to the Defense Department. 

SOURCE: ISAF. CREDIT: U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. William H. Newman

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on special operations was finalized a month after the U.S. agreed to transfer control of detention centers to the Afghan government.

“We are one step closer to our shared goal and vision of a secure and sovereign Afghanistan,” said Gen. John Allen, Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. “Together, these two Memorandums of Understanding mean that Afghan forces, not foreign forces, are now in the lead for two of the most critical aspects of maintaining Afghan security: capturing the terrorists that threaten innocent Afghan civilians and keeping those terrorists behind bars where they belong.”

Under the agreement, all special operation missions must be authorized by an Afghan court and approved by Afghan security forces.

Afghan forces will take the lead on all special operations with U.S. forces playing a supporting role, such as intelligence gathering and analysis and helicopter, fire, medical evacuation, and security support.

Furthermore, U.S. troops may not search homes or private compounds without the approval of Afghan forces. This provision was likely included to address the Afghan government’s concerns on mistaken killings of civilians by U.S. and NATO troops during night raids.

Lastly, the MOU required that all individuals arrested or detained by U.S. forces during special operations must be handed over to Afghan authorities for prosecution.

The two security agreements were reached as the U.S. faces increasing pressure to accelerate the Afghanistan transition following several disturbing incidents involving U.S. troops, including the Kandahar shooting spree that killed 17 Afghan civilians and the burnings of the Koran and other religious texts at Bagram Airbase. In addition to public protests, these incidents have resulted in retaliatory fratricides – or so-called “green on blue” attacks – by Afghan security personnel against U.S. and NATO forces.

Read more: Afghanistan shooting suspect charged with 17 counts of murder

Despite these setbacks, President Barack Obama and top military leaders insisted that the U.S. remains on track to complete the transition and pull troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The Obama administration is trying to wrap up negotiations of the long-term Strategic Partnership agreement with Afghanistan before the NATO summit in May.


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