KABUL -- Afghanistan will receive $20 billion in aid from the U.S. government over the next two years to boost its military competency, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who heads a special Afghan commission to oversee the handing over of responsibility for security from U.S.-led forces to Afghans, told RFE/RL on March 24 that the money will be spent on training and equipping police and soldiers before Afghanistan takes full charge of its security in three years.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced on March 22 the first phase of the security transition. NATO member countries have welcomed the announcement as their troops begin to plan the end of their military mission in Afghanistan.
U.S.-led forces first came to Afghanistan in 2001 and helped Afghan forces oust the Taliban government.
The process of transferring responsibility for security in Afghanistan will begin in July and will be completed by the end of 2014.
Ahmadzai said "money is available for the Afghan government and no space is left for any arguments -- doubts or uncertainty."
Short-term plans for military training and a takeover of security-related responsibilities have already been put together, and now the focus has shifted to drafting midterm and long-term programs.
Ahmadzai says that despite numerous security challenges, "The Afghan government is committed to taking full charge of security and is ready to meet the deadline."
He also said the transfer of security responsibilities from NATO and the U.S-led coalition to the Afghan National Army (ANA) and national police force is a gradual process that will eventually extend from the initial seven provinces to the entire country.
Ahmadzai said an international conference following the process of security transition in 2014 will highlight Afghanistan's needs and priorities regarding security.
Many Afghans fear their country risks lapsing into chaos in case of a rapid pullout of the NATO-led International Security Assistant Force (ISAF).