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GEN Nicholson's Statement on new US South Asia Strategy
Resolute Support Headquarters
August 24, 2017 | 7:18
General John W. Nicholson, commander Resolute Support and USFOR-A, held a joint press conference with the acting U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Hugo Llorens, to discuss the new U.S. South Asia policy and how it relates to Afghanistan with local and international press. This is his full statement:

"Thank you Ambassador – and Sediq – very much to the Government Media and Information Center for hosting us today.

Thank you to the great journalists of Afghanistan who continue to report to their country – reporting on the hopes and desires of everyone for peace.

This morning I wanted to take the opportunity – and add to what the Ambassador already said – to give you some more details on what President Trump’s announcement means for Afghanistan, and the US and NATO mission here.

• The United States and our NATO Allies and partners are with you. We will stay with you.
• We stand with your security forces against terrorists and the enemies of Afghanistan. They are the enemies of the entire world.
• With the announcement of this policy, the Taliban cannot win on the battlefield. It is time for them to join the peace process.

Let me stress our continuing support to Afghanistan, our commitment to the great people of Afghanistan and our confidence in your security forces is unwavering.

The United States and our allies and partners here in Afghanistan value the friendship – and deeply appreciate the hospitality – of the Afghan people and the Afghan government.

We know how you are plagued by terrorism and desire peace.
We offer our prayers to all of the Afghan families who have lost loved ones and for those who have been injured in this long war at the hands of terrorists.

There is a real opportunity now for hope for the future.

The Afghan people want peace and the international community are with you in that journey – it is a shared vision that we can all work towards, together.
With the NATO-led train, advise, and assist mission your security forces can become stronger.

The leadership of the security forces is evolving, is changing – and major reforms are underway to professionalize the military and police.

Corruption is being tackled inside the security forces and across the government.
Your air force is being built up.
And you all know how strong your special forces are. They are getting stronger.

We all recognize the need to secure Afghanistan – for your sake, and for the world’s sake.
And so the United States is determined to continue to support the Afghan security forces in the fight against the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Daesh, al-Qaeda, and all terrorist groups.

We are determined to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists, who wish to attack the rest of the world from Afghan soil. These terrorists offer nothing but hardship and misery for the Afghan people.

We are determined to pursue the goal of a political settlement. As these terrorist groups realize that they cannot win, they will see that their best option is to pursue peace.

In the coming months, US Forces Afghanistan and NATO will increase its train, advise, and assist efforts in Afghanistan. And, we will increase our air support to Afghan security forces.

Last Sunday, President Ghani activated the Afghan National Army Special Operations Corps.
This was an essential step in growing the Afghan National Army. We are doubling the size of the Afghan commandos and Ktah Khas. These brave soldiers have never lost a battle. And they never will.
And with the additional support we will provide them, they will become larger and more lethal.

The Taliban have never won against the commandos and Ktah Khas. They never will.
Therefore, they cannot win militarily.

The Afghan Air Force is increasing in size and strength. We know the enemy fears air power, and they have good reason to, as the Afghan Air Forces get stronger.

Along with our Afghan partners, we will relentlessly pursue ISIS-K and annihilate them. We will continue to crush the remnants of al-Qaeda, and we will increase our pressure on all terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

As President Ghani said, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces own the fight inside Afghanistan.
These forces are protecting Afghanistan and protecting our homelands, and protecting Afghanistan as well.

The United States deeply appreciates and respects the sacrifice and strength of the Afghan people.
The United States deeply appreciates and respects the sacrifice and strength of the Afghan armed forces.

We will not fail in Afghanistan. Our national security depends on it, as well as Afghanistan’s security, and our allies and partners. Americans know that our Afghan partners are with us.

To the Taliban, I say you have a simple choice: Stop fighting against your countrymen. Stop killing innocent civilians. Stop bringing hardship and misery to the Afghan people. Lay down your arms and join Afghan society. Help build a better future for this country and your own children.

Afghan Special Forces and air power have destroyed Taliban “red” units in Kandahar, Helmand, Kunduz, and Paktiya. These were the enemy’s elite fighting forces, and they were defeated.

In the rank and file, the Taliban’s losses are even greater than the losses of the Afghan Security Forces. This is unsustainable.

The Taliban are a criminal organization, more interested in the profits they find in drugs, kidnapping, and murder for hire than offering anything better to the Afghan people.
ISIS is being crushed in Nangarhar and we will pursue them, and annihilate them wherever they go.

And as President Trump said in his speech, and I quote: “These killers need to know that they have nowhere to hide. These killers need to know that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms.”

Why is this approach different than the past?
In his road map for the security forces President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah have committed to reform and professionalizing of the Afghan security forces.

We have a willing and trusted partner in the National Unity Government, one that is committed to reform and transparency.

The international commitment to Afghanistan has gotten stronger in the last year. The Warsaw Summit, the Brussels Conference, and now this robust US policy are proof of our commitment to Afghanistan.

The new US strategy is guided by conditions on the ground and not arbitrary timelines.
It provides for more US and NATO resources.

The momentum is ours.
We are building effective combat capability in the Afghan security forces, and they continue to demonstrate steady progress.

Afghans are leading this fight.

Afghans are not asking us to do their fighting for them, or for the international community. We stand with them.
The Afghan people have rejected terrorism. 90% of the people of Afghanistan believe a return to Taliban rule would be bad for the country. We agree.

We are with you in this fight. We will stay with you.

Again let me say to the brave people of Afghanistan who only wish to live in a peaceful country: the US and your NATO allies and partners are with you.

We are firmly committed with our continuing support and we have confidence in your security forces.
And this policy announcement by President Trump is proof of our commitment. Thank you."
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