The Kabul Times.
Opinion

‘Thank you’ from Afghanistan: How to continue counterterrorism after the withdrawal

By: Lt. Gen. M. Farid Ahmadi

The Afghan people are grateful to coalition nation countries and the international community for the continued support and the blood and treasure you spent in Afghanistan, especially your assistance and investments in the Afghan National Army (ANA). Because of you and the sacrifices, the bravery, and the commitment of Afghan soldiers, building the ANA has been a once-in-a-century level achievement — for Afghanistan and for our coalition partners, we must be proud of this together.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) is battle hardened, professional, combat tested and a reliable and trusted partner to your nations. The ANA has earned and deserves the continued support so it can defend its homeland, and operate as front-line soldiers for the international community fighting terrorism well into the future.

The ANA is now self-reliant and ready to defend the people and the country. I have full faith in ANA’s ability and capacities, they mastered the trinity of warfare and peace building with great experiences.

When compared with armies of other regional and neighboring states, the ANA is not a large or expensive army. Obviously in the long-term, Afghanistan must fund its military institutions, but until we achieve that goal, we still need the support of the international community and our trusted coalition partners.

As a young major in 2003, I attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as the first student from Afghanistan in 32 years. I learned one lesson: we only succeed if we work together; if we become divided, we will definitely all fail together.

Today, Afghanistan faces a reality, with many challenges and opportunities, as U.S. and coalition partners start leaving the country after two decades. But we also learned a lot of lessons.

Challenges are part of our lives, and we should not bend our knees in front of challenges. We soldiers, who trained in various ways and in difficult environments, are ready to stand tall and defend our people and the motherland.

Our coalition friends must see the global recognition for an urgent requirement for the international community effort to mobilize a robust, sustainable, and coordinated method to prevent big security concerns and help ensure an enduring political settlement.

Establishing a South and Central Asia Special Operations Forces and Counterterrorism Center of Excellence in Kabul (SOF/CT CoE)

Continuing many lines of support of the ANA and finding new ways to keep up the training and advising mission is the required solution as nations begin to bring all U.S./coalition troops home. The ANA is a reliable, effective, combat-experienced force that has earned trust and can continue to partner closely with coalition and regional armies to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist safe-haven once again. This collaboration is not difficult and not expensive.

The end-state of helping Afghanistan is to help yourselves, with less expenses. I don’t just request international support for the ANA, I also urge my fellow Afghan citizens to realize they must preserve the Afghan National Army as the nation’s “century achievement.” Besides appreciating the sacrifices of the families of the martyrs, the disabled, and wounded, I ask all sections of Afghan society, especially politicians inside and outside the system, to protect and support the national army, which is the national pride. We must support and value their honor and dignity.

Our Afghan special operations forces and commandos, who are the best elite counterterrorism force in the region with years of partnering experience, are combat tested, well trained, equipped, and effective. It’s a national treasure and a rallying point for regional cooperation to combat terrorists.

Therefore, my recommendation to the U.S.-NATO partners is to help Afghanistan to establish a South and Central Asia Special Operations Forces and Counterterrorism (SOF/CT) Regional Center of Excellence in Kabul. The ANDSF already has the opportunity and the capacity to lead this effort through the Commando School of Excellence (SOE), which has 13-years of experience and achievements. Our Afghan instructors and a variety of professional training programs already exists.

A Regional SOF/CT Center of Excellence will have the following value to the region and the world:

1. The Afghan National Army has the highest-level of CT experience in the region with the best mentors in the world, as well as the will and the capacity to lead this effort.

2. This effort will unify and improve regional counterterrorism, counterdrug operations, border cooperation, and increase SOF capabilities for many nations.

3. Through international cooperation, we can increase and develop regional mutual military-to-military cooperation, which automatically decreases regional confrontations.

4. The people of the region are tired of instability; they will support this idea as a dream come true.

5. It provides a regional space to build mutual trust, increase military exchanges, share intelligence on terrorist groups, and creates more opportunities for leadership education.

The ANA is a critical force for the world

The Afghan National Army is standing like an invincible fortress in the current situation of this complex war. Once again, I thank the international community and the coalition forces for their help and continued support for the Afghan National Army, which is a way to invest in peace and stability in the region and in the world.

I have full confidence that the Taliban can’t win militarily against the ANDSF, and they know this. If the Taliban stubbornly continue the fight, they will lose. Because of the history, culture, and psychology of Afghan people, which has been strengthened since 2001, the spirit, morale, and willingness of the Afghan National Army will continue to increase, instead of decreasing, after the exit of all international forces. The Taliban will lose their supposed cause for war after the coalition leaves, and the Afghan people will not support them.

Please remember that helping Afghanistan means the world helps themselves. It is also how we together can honor and respect the cause of our tens of thousands of joint fallen heroes. We have a responsibility for the blood of those heroes, and for their families and children. The cause is noble and makes the world a better place for the next generations. We must fulfill our duty by working together, to fulfill the trusteeship our fallen comrades left us.

Afghans are ready to face all challenges to defend our democratic institutions and our way of life. We will preserve the past 20 years of achievements, including women’s rights, and will live in harmony with all our neighbors and the world.

The international community has the opportunity and responsibility to focus beyond the current situation with a strategic outlook that can ensure peace, security and stability in Afghanistan in connection with the national interests of the international community. Those interests and values are the same as two decades ago when they came to Afghanistan to assist. Afghanistan is a critical partner for global security, regional stability, and sustainable economic development for all its neighbors. Therefore, it’s important for the U.S., EU, and neighboring countries to reach strategic consensus on relationships with Afghanistan. After the pullout, the U.S./coalition will then be in a better position to help Afghanistan.

At the same time, the Afghan government should apply a four-facet approach: Diplomatically, through informational narrative-building, and strengthening the military and economic systems. The withdrawal of international forces presents opportunities as well as concerns. It is the duty of the Afghan people, politicians, and leaders to defy terrorist narratives, unite the country by inclusion of all sides, forge regional consensus, and use this historic opportunity to make a lasting peace that ends the nation’s longest suffering war and starts the new chapter of modern Afghanistan, InshaAllah.

Our Afghan National Army is our national pride. May God bless Afghanistan and all freedom-loving nations.

With warmth and respect,

LTG M. FARID AHMADI

Lt. Gen. Farid Ahmadi joined the Afghan Army in 1991. He believes strongly in the power of mentorship and commanded special operations forces at the battalion and brigade level before becoming the head of planning and operations at the Ministry of Defense Afghanistan. He was the commander of the Joint Special Operations Center from 2018 to 2019 and the commander of the Afghan National Army Special Operations Corps (ANASOC) from 2019 until 2021. He earned a master’s degrees in military sciences from the Parachute Commando University of Russia and international relations from London’s Royal College. He completed his strategic defense studies at the Royal College of Defense Studies and also attended U.S. Command and General Staff College (2003-2004) and Kings College, London, U.K.

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The Kabul Times.