Afghan troops in Helmand province have taken charge of planning and conducting operations against insurgents, the commandant of the Marine Corps said Thursday.
“We don’t write plans anymore for an operation. We only write supporting plans,” Marine Gen. James Amos said at the American Enterprise Institute. “We are the force that will provide support as needed — sometimes it’s helicopter lift, sometimes it’s [reconnaissance] overhead. But we’re backup in case something happens.”
Gen. Amos returned Monday from a week-long trip to southern Afghanistan, where Helmand province is located.
The Marines now have just two infantry battalions in Helmand, down from seven last year. About 7,000 Marines are deployed there with about 10,000 troops from Great Britain, Jordan, Georgia and Estonia.
Meanwhile, the Afghan National Security Forces there have grown to about 27,000, Gen. Amos said.
Afghan forces taking charge of their nation’s security is a key necessity for all international combat troops to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 as scheduled.
“We are on track,” Gen. Amos said.
However, he added: “You notice I didn’t say we are winning or losing. I didn’t say, ‘This is Nirvana, we’ve arrived.’ What I am saying is … the campaign plan is on track.”