KABUL, Afghanistan, June 24 (UPI) -- Many Afghans, reacting to U.S. President Barack Obama's troop withdrawal plan, say they are concerned about the readiness of their own forces to take charge.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, some raised questions about the inexperienced and ill-equipped Afghan security forces' ability to challenge the Taliban after the American troops start to leave.
Obama Wednesday announced his plan to bring back 33,000 U.S. troops, with 10,000 returning home by year-end and the rest by summer 2012.
The Times said the question on the minds of the Afghans is: "Will we be ready?" when control of the military operation is handed over to Afghan security by 2014. U.S. and NATO forces would remain but only to provide further training for Afghan security forces.
Those who spoke to the Times wanted to know whether the Taliban's fighting ability will be sufficiently neutralized by 2014 and whether efforts will succeed to make Taliban leaders accept negotiations.
"The core Taliban group's idea is to topple the system, to reverse the process," former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, the main political rival of President Hamid Karzai, told reporters in Kabul Thursday.
Political and security analyst Haroon Mir told the Times the concern is what the Taliban would be able to accomplish by 2014.
"We know the Taliban won't amass a bunch of fighters because 10,000 U.S. troops have left this year, but in 2014, that might be the case," he said.
The report said Afghans concede their lack of confidence in their security forces, currently made up of about 150,000 soldiers and 122,000 police officers.
The report said there have been 16 cases of Afghan security personnel shooting and killing NATO troops and Western military contractors since 2009, and that an estimated 80 percent of the recruits cannot read.
Under current plans, Afghan security forces are to take over security in two provinces, four provincial capitals and most of Kabul by next month.
Some Afghans told the Times the U.S. troop withdrawal could bring back memories of American abandonment of the early 1990s.
Some experts said Afghans' concerns could be eased if the United States raises pressure on neighboring Pakistan to rein in Afghan Taliban militants taking sanctuary in the latter's border tribal areas.