Power Players

ISAF Commander: Afghanistan not ready to stand on its own, but will be in 2014

Power Players

On the Radar

As commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. has one of the toughest jobs in the military: preparing Afghanistan to stand on its own by 2014 when the last international troops are set to pull out of the country.

Gen. Dunford says Afghanistan isn’t yet strong enough to provide for its own security but is optimistic about the country's future.

“The conditions are not yet set for a stable and secure Afghanistan in the long term from which Al Qaeda and other international extremist groups will not be able to conduct attacks on the West,” the general tells On the Radar.

When asked if there's a "Plan B" in case Afghanistan isn't capable of providing for its own security by 2014, Dunford replies without hesitation that "it's going to work."

“I'm confident that we have a plan in place right now to grow the Afghan security forces to the level they need to be at in order to secure the country,” Dunford says.

Progress has been made in pushing the violence out of Afghanistan's most heavily populated areas, Dunford touts, and says the mission now is to maintain that progress.

“The critical piece is to ensure that the Afghan security forces do have the sustainability in the future where they can continue to secure the people and allow the political transition to take place as well as development," he says.

But the challenge of maintaining security becomes more challenging as fighting season approaches in Afghanistan. Dunford is bracing for a tough fight against the Taliban.

“We’ve seen some indication that the Taliban would like to be successful this year, particularly conducting high profile attacks and assassinations of Afghan leaders to try to erode the will of the coalition,” Dunford says, but goes on to say “we'll be able to provide the Afghans the support they need to be successful this summer.”

Another challenge Dunford faces is securing the porous Pakistani border through which insurgents enter into Afghanistan to fight, and then retreat back across for sanctuary in Pakistan.

“Certainly not satisfied with where we are on the border right now…but I'm probably no more satisfied than my predecessors, that we've satisfactorily addressed the challenge of Pakistan,” says Dunford of ISAF’s progress in securing the border, whose predecessors include recently retired Gen. John Allen and former Gen. David Petreaus.

Dunford asserts that Afghanistan’s security is steadily improving, despite the difficulties that remain.

"I don't think we're drifting sideways, I don't think we're in a stalemate as people say," Dunford says. "I can see the growth of the Afghan national security forces. It is real. The opportunity the Afghans have for political transition…it is up to them to seize that opportunity but they will have that in the spring of 2014."

To hear more of the interview with Gen. Dunford, including his thoughts on how civil society will fare following the troops' withdrawal, check out this episode of On the Radar.

ABC's Alexandra Dukakis, Eric Wray and Brian Hartman contributed to this episode.

View Comments (1279)

Recommended for You

  • Husband sets wife on fire in Pakistan 'honour killing'

    A Pakistani man and his father have been arrested in the country's latest so-called "honour killing" after they set the son's wife alight for leaving the house without asking his permission, police said Sunday. Muhammad Siddique became enraged on learning that his wife, Shabana Bibi, 25, had…

  • Mark Hamill said he was 'suspicious' of J.J. Abrams

    ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mark Hamill knew he had to say yes when George Lucas told him about the plans to move forward with a new "Star Wars" trilogy.

    Associated Press
  • Poland summons U.S. ambassador over FBI head's Holocaust remarks

    Poland has summoned the United States' ambassador in Warsaw over an article written by a top U.S. intelligence official on Poland's alleged responsibility for the Holocaust during World War Two, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday. The article by FBI director James Comey, published in the…

  • Ohio woman's search for birth mother leads to co-worker

    YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A 38-year-old woman's quest to find her birth mother ended in a surprising place — the company where she works.

    Associated Press
  • Email: Affleck asked PBS to not reveal slave-owning ancestor

    BOSTON (AP) — Ben Affleck requested that the PBS documentary series "Finding Your Roots" not reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor, according to emails published online by whistleblower site WikiLeaks, and the information never appeared on the program.

    Associated Press
  • Iran leader urges military to increase 'preparedness'

    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the country's armed forces Sunday to increase their "defensive preparedness", hitting out at a US warning of possible military action. He told commanders and troops in a speech that Iran "will never accept such stupid remarks", a jab at General…

  • Toddler shot in drive-by near Seattle dies

    A one-year-old girl who was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting near Seattle on Thursday died late Saturday from her wounds, hospital officials said. The girl was brain dead and life support care had been removed, a spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center said. Police in Kent, Washington,…

  • Ohio officer praised for restraint, refused to shoot suspect

    NEW RICHMOND, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police officer is being praised for holding his fire even as a slaying suspect charged him, saying repeatedly, "shoot me."

    Associated Press
  • France, Russia negotiating solution to frozen warship deal: Hollande

    French President Francois Hollande said Sunday that negotiations with Moscow were under way to find a solution to a dispute over the sale of two Mistral warships, frozen over the Ukraine crisis. The delivery of the first warship has been suspended for six months over Russia's role in the Ukraine…

  • For short-sellers in U.S. stocks, the agony just piles on

    By Jennifer Ablan and David Gaffen NEW YORK (Reuters) - In January 2014, veteran short-seller Bill Fleckenstein said he was readying a new fund to bet on falling stock prices. Despite lackluster U.S. economic data, a world grappling with slow growth, concern that Greece and Ukraine could default on…

  • View

    Deadly suicide attack in Afghanistan (11 photos)

    The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Afghanistan Saturday that killed 33 people and wounded more than 100 others, President Ashraf Ghani said, in what appears to be the first major attack by the jihadists in the country. Ghani's government has repeatedly raised…

    Yahoo News
  • 'Mysterious' disease kills 18 in Nigeria: official

    "Twenty-three people (were affected) and 18 deaths were recorded," the Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, told AFP. The government spokesman for the state, Kayode Akinmade, earlier gave a toll of 17 dead. "Seventeen people have died of the mysterious disease since it broke out early…

  • British royal baby's first A to Z

    From baby fashion to specially-minted coins, here is an A to Z on the birth of Prince William and his wife Kate's second child, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare for their new addition to Britain's royal family. A proclamation will be displayed on an easel at the gates of Buckingham…

  • Sheriff: Cannot yet arrest woman bragging of killing cat

    HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas sheriff said Saturday that he could not arrest and charge a veterinarian shown in a Facebook post bragging about killing a cat with a bow and arrow unless an investigation determines the picture of the dead cat is genuine.

    Associated Press
  • 8 Photos That Show What This Baby Sun Bear Really Thinks of Freedom

    Meet Kala, a baby sun bear who’s had a rough start to life. By late February, Kala had turned a corner, and BSBCC staff started introducing the baby sun bear back to her natural environment. “Sun bear cubs depend on and stay with their mothers for about two to three years,” BSBCC staff member Chiew…

  • Man who went on 9-day killing spree in 1977 denied parole

    SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A convicted California serial killer who went on a nine-day rampage that claimed the lives of four people has been denied parole and cannot reapply for seven years.

    Associated Press
  • One man's last wish, 'Don't vote for Hillary Clinton.' Will it matter?

    Larry Darrell Upright died this week. "In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Shriners Hospital for Children .... Also, the family respectfully asks that you do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. We promise not to vote for Hillary," one mourner wrote. A CNN poll released Monday shows that…

    Christian Science Monitor