Wed, Sep

A Country to Build': Afghanistan's President Gives an Exclusive Interview to TIME


President Ghani’s response to Time Magazine on recent reports about the possible deployment of an additional 3,000-5,000 U.S. troops, and whether the numbers proposed would be enough to improve the security situation in the country.

ashraf ghani

Yes, because the core reason is that we need advice at the level of the division. At the corps command level we have advice, but it is at the division [level where Afghan forces need additional support].

On whether security can be restored without a more significant increase in costs and international troops

Security can be restored, yes. First of all, my relationship with both President Obama and President Trump is not to ask for things. President Obama called me on his last day in office and said the only person who never asked him for anything was me. And I do not get into the executive decision-making process of my partner countries. I don’t go to the press; I don’t make requests. Because it has to be interest-based, it has to be a factual and demonstrable set of propositions. The security transition [with the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014 and the departure of most foreign troops] is a done thing. There is no global appetite, there is no Afghan appetite, for a resumption of that scale of presence. We need to put this to rest because if there are questions regarding this, the consensus will break.

Second, what we need is precisely the way that the Resolute Support Mission [as the current NATO deployment is known] is defined and also it’s in our bilateral security agreement: advise, train and assist. In these functions, the numbers that have been proposed are the right numbers. In 2001, we didn’t have an army; we had remnants of a dissolved army that had no hope. Our generals had literally become busboys. Restoring this has been really important. But of course there are significant issues. For example there is corruption in the police. In the Ministry of Defense, I have retired over 150 generals in the last two years. They had done their service, they had served their country. But they were being extended beyond the law. So I have put a stop to this. Reorganizing our forces is critical to sustainability. We cannot shift the burden again.