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A More Effective Afghan Army


A More Effective Afghan Army
The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), under the command of U.S. Army Major General Robert Cone, works with countries participating in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to train, equip and mentor the Afghan National Army and National Police. Assistance in this mission comes from NATO partners.

General Cone said the Afghan security forces are expanding rapidly while simultaneously fighting insurgents and their terrorist allies. The Afghan National Army now leads over 60 percent of the operations it participates in and is proving to be an effective fighting force that is substantially enhancing the security of Afghanistan.

The Afghan National Army, now numbering about 68,000 with another 11,000 soldiers in training, will grow to a total of 122,000 in the next few years. In 2007, the Afghan army expanded by approximately 26,000 troops. "This year, we plan to expand the Afghan National Army by another 28,000 and are on track to meet that number," said General Cone at a November 25 briefing.

On the police side, General Cone said that since last year his command and the Ministry of Interior have retrained over 22,000 police. "That's more than a quarter of the police force in just one year," he said.

The central thrust of the police-training program is the Focused District Development Program, which has resulted in substantial improvement in the national police's ability to both secure their communities from terrorists and provide basic law enforcement. Under this program, police units are sent to regional training centers where they receive 8 weeks of training, as well as new equipment. "To date we have reformed 42 districts. This is a program that has proven that it works," said General Cone.

A program to retrain and reform the Afghan border police has also been initiated. The program is modeled after the focused district development program. "Over the winter, we will train 52 companies at a cost of some $70 million," said General Cone. "These companies will partner with coalition [forces] units."

The command is also building approximately 165 permanent border facilities on the borders of Afghanistan at a cost of about $845 million. Securing the borders to counter terrorist infiltration and drug trafficking is critical to the country's stability. "We have made great progress in training, fielding and equipping the Afghan national security forces, but we have a long way to go," said General Cone. "This effort requires sustained support from the international community."
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