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“We will have about 18 months of Afghan national security forces fighting in the lead throughout the entire country before our combat mission ends,” said Speaks, referring to plans for Afghan security forces to take full control of the country in the next several months. “It gives us time to see what’s needed.”

Last month, Gen. Allen told reporters that the U.S. will continue to keep a military presence in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline.

Omar, a resident of eastern Afghanistan, a region heavy with Taliban fighters, said the plan to have Afghan forces take the lead is not a welcome reality for many Afghans. “Many of us have made sacrifices as well, fighting along side U.S. forces to build a better nation,” said Omar, who used only his first name for fear of retribution and spoke to the Washington Guardian via the Internet. Recent attacks on Afghan forces have shaken the confidence of residents, he added.

Last week, Taliban fighters cut the throats of four Afghan soldiers they kidnapped while heading home for leave. At least 1,080 Afghan soldiers have been killed this year, and last year, nearly 1,000 were killed in either accidents or operations, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

Another major issue plaguing the Afghan Army and security forces is the number of “green-on-blue” attacks, where Taliban leaders have recruited and embedded sympathetic Afghan soldiers to kill U.S. troops.

The IG report states that senior Afghan commanders have their hands tied when it comes to removing subordinate officers and  “senior leaders needed appropriate, fair, and clearly detailed mechanisms to remove ineffective or incapable subordinates”  without interference from the central government.

Neighboring Pakistan – with its own set of corruption problems, political instability and whose tribal belt has become a safe-haven for Taliban fighters — is already preparing for the possibility that Afghanistan will fall into civil war.

U.S. intelligence officials have accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban and using the war in Afghanistan as a chess game against U.S. policy in the region.

Coffey said “there is no doubt that many will feel let down by the capabilities of the Afghan Army post-2014,” adding that “improving the capabilities of the Afghan Army is a process and not an event.”

“We will not wake up one day, either before 2014 or soon after 2014, to discover that the Afghan Army is one of the world’s premier fighting forces,” he said. “This was never the goal.”