U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made these statements on the U.S.-Afghan agreement on night raids. Graham just returned from a week-long visit to Afghanistan.
"Today's signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on night raids in Afghanistan is another major step forward. The agreement balances the practical needs of the Afghan people with the needs of American military commanders. The agreement ensures night raids will continue to deliver punishing blows to the Taliban and other insurgents.
"Today's agreement allows continued cooperation between the United States and Afghanistan on intelligence gathering but does require Afghans to be in the lead. I believe it to be strategically sound from a military perspective and will ensure that the military advantage gained through night raids continues. The implementation of both the night raid and recent agreement on detention policy remain a concern but I am very pleased that the two issues have been resolved clearing the way to a Strategic Partnership Agreement. When taken into consideration with the recent agreement on detention, two major obstacles to concluding negotiations on a Strategic Partnership Agreement have been resolved. If we are able to reach a final agreement on the Strategic Partnership Agreement before the Chicago NATO summit in May, I am confident other NATO nations will continue their presence post-2014.
"We have many challenges ahead politically, economically, and militarily in Afghanistan but these agreements go a long ways towards ensuring the Taliban can never return to power. I am increasingly confident that we are reaching a turning point in the war where Afghans will be in the lead and the coalition will be in support. Afghan Special Forces capabilities have tremendously increased in the last year and I am confident they are prepared to take the lead in night raid operations.
"The most frequent questions Afghans ask is what the US commitment to Afghanistan looks like post 2014. If we can enter into a Strategic Partnership Agreement soon where the U.S. pledges to support Afghanistan politically, economically, and military with a fraction of the troops for counter-terrorism, intelligence, and logistical support, it will end the Taliban's dreams of taking back Afghanistan. A Strategic Partnership Agreement is an insurance policy to ensure the Taliban and Al Qaeda never take control of Afghanistan again, shows Iran that we do not abandon our allies, ends the narrative that America is leaving the region, and sends a strong signal to Pakistan regarding their support for insurgents along the Afghan-Pakistan border."