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Assignment Afghanistan: International Forces Work Together on Mission

By: Rachel Cox Email
By: Rachel Cox Email

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN News 3's Steve Fullhart and Rachel Cox from KWTX News 10 in Waco are on assignment covering Texans serving in Afghanistan.

Military members from almost fifty countries are serving in Afghanistan at the International Joint Command (IJC) in Kabul to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Soldiers from America, Turkey, Jordan, The Czech Republic, England, Poland and many more often share meals together in the dining facilities, swapping stories from back home. Even though their accents and cultures may be worlds apart, many say their mission in Kabul is the same.

Royal Navy Commander Ian Aitchison and Polish Lt. Col. Wojciech Wisniewski sat down together Tuesday to discuss their common interests and views about the multi-nation mission they both are a part of in Kabul.

"I think it signifies it's a global effort to support Afghanistan; it's not just one or two countries, but it's the world community coming together," Aitchison said.

"I do not see any difference if I work with an American, Georgian, an Albanian, or a Norwegian soldier. We are just soldiers and as far as I can see. All armies are the same," Wisniewski said.

Currently, the U.S. has the most troops in Afghanistan, but that could soon change as the drawdown continues to get closer to the end of the year when the ISAF mandate expires.

Even though America and NATO forces have offered their support with the possibility of troops in the country after 2014, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) that would make that possible.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. may have been shifting its plans on the exit strategy for troops in Afghanistan after continued frustration with Karzai's unwillingness to sign the BSA.

According to the article, the White House could wait until Karzai leaves office before completing a security pact and settling on a post-2014 U.S. troop presence, officials said.

The Afghan presidential election will take place in April, and Karzai is not eligible for re-election.

But the article also says Mr. Obama is expected to ask the military to initiate planning for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan if Karzai doesn't sign the security pact soon, most likely before a NATO summit in Brussels this month.

Meanwhile, in an article in the Pajhwok Afghan News, an independent Afghanistan newspaper, sources told reporters that Karzai was likely to sign the BSA with the U.S. before he left office, but after presidential elections.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, insisted Karzai would sign the deal or have one of his ministers conclude it only after some of his key conditions were met, including an end to raids on Afghan homes and progress in talks with the Taliban, this according to the Pajhwok article.

Political issues aside, both Aitchison and Wisniewski said they hope forces will be able to stay in the country after 2014 to continue the work that's been started to bring progress to the Afghan people and end violent attacks.

"International terrorism affects all nations, so the effort here is to try and make sure that these events never again happen in places like America, and even as we've seen in London and in Madrid, that these bombings with terrorists based out of Afghanistan don't happen in the future," Aitchison said.


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