At the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, the United States, our NATO Allies, ISAF partners, and the Government of Afghanistan agreed to transfer responsibility for securing Afghanistan from ISAF to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in a transition process that would begin in 2011 and be completed by the end of 2014. This strategy is on track. Already more than 50 percent of Afghans live in areas where the ANSF are in the lead for security. This number will reach roughly 75 percent when the recently announced third tranche of Afghan provinces, districts, and cities begin the transition later this summer. As an Alliance, we are fully committed to the Lisbon transition strategy and timeline, and we remain committed to executing it together. This transition process will allow us to responsibly draw down our forces in Afghanistan, while preserving our hard-won gains and setting the stage for our core objectives to be achieved now and into the future.
At the Chicago NATO Summit, leaders reaffirmed this Lisbon framework for transition and agreed on an interim milestone in mid-2013 to mark our progress toward the transition goal. Concurrent with the announcement of the fifth and final tranche of Afghan provinces to enter the transition process – to be determined by the Afghan Government -- the mid-2013 milestone will mark the beginning of the ANSF’s assumption of the lead for combat operations across the country. At this time, ISAF’s main effort will shift from combat to supporting the ANSF. As it shifts its primary focus from combating the enemy to training, advising, and assisting, ISAF will ensure that the Afghans have the support they need while they adjust to their new responsibilities in preparation for transition’s conclusion at the end of 2014.
ISAF forces will continue to conduct combat operations as necessary through the end of 2014. However, after the mid-2013 milestone, ISAF’s composition will continue to evolve to reflect the new primary focus on training, advising, and assisting. Troop numbers will continue to decrease in a planned, coordinated, and responsible manner. By the end of 2014, transition will be complete and Afghan Security Forces will be fully responsible for the security of their country.