Capability Gaps Remain in Afghanistan

The top US commander in Afghanistan told Congress on Tuesday he has provided options to President Obama for the US presence in Afghanistan after 2015, and said he believes a change to the current drawdown plan is necessary. One of the greatest tactical challenges for Afghan security forces is overcoming their “extremely limited” close-air support capability, and it will take “several more years” for them to get where they need to be on CAS, Gen. John Campbell told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We started too late,” and though there is a surge in building pilots and maintainers, “it’s been slow coming,” Campbell said. The “uneven performance” of Afghan security forces this year underscores shortfalls that will remain “well beyond this year,” he said, and “capability gaps still exist in fixed and rotary wing aviation, combined arms, intelligence, and maintenance. … The Afghans welcome the opportunity to shape their destiny, but they still desire, need, and deserve our assistance.” Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Obama must reconsider the current withdrawal plan, which he called a dangerous mistake. “The world walked away from Afghanistan once before, and it descended into chaos that contributed to the worst terrorist attack ever against our homeland,” he said.