Afghanistan Beyond 2014

The international community must sustain a “fairly robust aid network” in Afghanistan after US troops withdraw in 2014 in order to ensure that the country doesn’t revert to a safe haven for terrorists, said Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, head of US Central Command. Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee last week, Mattis said the process of helping the Afghans reach self-sufficiency has been difficult since Afghanistan was a nation “where literacy and any kind of governmental organization [was] totally lacking.” However, the need for foreign aid will eventually taper off as the Afghan economy grows, he noted. “Afghanistan is starting to get some economic vitality showing up from extraction industries,” said Mattis. Its education system, he continued, is starting to churn out people “directly employable to do things that are more than just subsistent farming.” He said the United States and its coalition partners have helped build logistics schools for the Afghan military so that it can “maintain the military infrastructure and equipment we’re giving them.” (Mattis’ written statement)