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.
“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.
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.
- International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan: Memorandum of Understanding between Afghanistan and the United States on special operations on Afghan soil signed April 8, 2012 (PDF)
- International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan: USFOR-A, Afghanistan sign memorandum of understanding on special operations
- International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan: Remarks by Gen. John Allen on March 8, 2012 (PDF)
- International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan: U.S., Afghanistan Agree to Turnover of Parwan Detention Facility
- WashingtonPost.com: Afghan officials likely to press for veto power over night raids in formal talks
- Defense.gov: Press briefing with George Little on April 3, 2012
- Reuters.com: Ten dead in protests after two women killed in Afghan raid
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Gen. John Allen says successful Afghan transition is ‘linchpin’ to U.S. strategy
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Dr. James Miller says recent tragedies shouldn’t ‘blind us’ from progress made in Afghanistan
- WhatTheFolly.com: Obama, Panetta condemn rampage that killed 16 Afghan civilians
- WhatTheFolly.com: Obama: Shooting spree won’t hasten U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan