LTG Bill Caldwell provides an overview of geographic transition for the Atlantic Council. 7 areas are transitioning to Afghan-led security responsibility this week. He wrote:
To be sure, transition marks an important milestone in the history of post-2001 Afghanistan. Dozens of countries are supporting Afghanistan today to improve security conditions and create a foundation where Afghans can provide security for Afghanistan.
LTG Caldwell also provides a useful, if not widely understood, distinction on the meaning of transition, which is both geographic and institutional.While attention this week is focused on geographic transition, it is institutional transition that will ensure Afghanistan has the capabilities and capacity to provide security.
At the same time that ISAF is supporting geographic transition over the next three years, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) is supporting institutional transition. NTM-A has been charged with building Afghan capacity in four primary areas: training and equipping the Afghan National Army, Air Force, and Police; developing the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense; improving the country's human capital; and investing in Afghanistan's physical capital.
Geographic transition is certainly important and begins the end of NATO combat operations, but we must recognize that there is still an insurgency in Afghanistan. Again from LTG Caldwell:
Although we have come a long way, we recognize that transition is only the first of many difficult steps in the future. Days and months that will be challenged by difficulties, marred by setbacks, and faced with dangers.