Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, head of the NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan (NTM-A) and Commander of the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan.
The Foreign Secretary and General Caldwell discussed the progress being made in recruiting and training Afghan national security forces and the important contribution the NATO-led training mission, NTM-A, is making to the process of transferring security responsibility to Afghans by 2014. The Foreign secretary welcomed the fact that NTM-A was on track to help recruit 171,600 Afghan National Army soldiers and 134,000 Afghan National Police officers by October this year, target levels set at the London Conference on 28 January 2010.
They also discussed the particular challenges of developing the civilian police force, given the low level from which work had to start. They agreed that a professional and effective police force was essential to underpinning security gains and maintaining stability in Afghanistan by protecting the public and investigating crime. They also agreed that important progress was now being made in this regard.
Afghanistan is undergoing a gradual transition to Afghan-led security, which will be completed across the country by the end of 2014. Training police and soldiers is a crucial part of ensuring that Afghanistan can look after its own security, and can prevent terrorists returning to use it as a safe haven from which to launch attacks. This will mean that UK forces will no longer be in a combat role in Afghanistan by 2015, or be present in the same numbers. Nevertheless, the UK is committed to a strong, long term partnership with Afghanistan based on diplomacy, trade and development.