Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford said last week that the military needs a balanced approach to its capabilities and shouldn't sacrifice ground combat forces for technological advances. "Experience tells us we need a balanced inventory of capabilities and capacities in joint force to be successful," the Joint Chiefs of Staff nominee said in testimony during his confirmation hearing.
NATO will contribute about 4,000 troops to Afghanistan security next year, in addition to the 9,800 that the U.S. plans to leave in the region, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has said. The number of NATO troops in Afghanistan could climb higher than 14,000 with the addition of special forces from U.S. allies such as the U.K. and Australia.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, head of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says it's poor strategy to plan a pullout of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, despite a mandate from the White House that such a move take place. Talk of a 100% exit from the country is making it harder to deal with Afghan leaders, says Dunford. "Anyone who reinforces this idea of December 2014 as being Y2K or a cliff that the Afghan people are going to fall off is actually being unhelpful," he says.
Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal announced that he was taking direct control of American Special Operations forces, bringing them under one authority in Afghanistan for the time. Human-rights workers and Afghan officials say that Special Operations forces are responsible for the majority of civilian casualties -- the reduction of which McChrystal has identified as a cornerstone of the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Last year, civilian deaths committed by U.S. forces fell 28%.
U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan, who leads the NATO mission in Afghanistan, says he will pledge to avoid more civilian deaths and hopes to curb the use of air strikes which have lead to greater civilian deaths. He said NATO requires more troops to accomplish its mission in Afghanistan.