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Correction: 400,000 Afghan Soldiers And Police

After being unsure how long it would take to train a 400,000-soldier Afghan Army, I started calling around to experts, and in the process it was gingerly pointed out to me that I misread The New York Times’ piece that reported the enlargement of the Afghan security force that the Obama administration will pursue. The plan calls for 400,000 soldiers and police, meaning that the current goal of 134,000 Afghan soldiers on track to be delivered will rise to 260,000 soldiers, with the difference made up by an expansion of the currently 80,000-member police force. All this is in The Times’ story and I, uh, flubbed it. The perils of pre-coffee blogging. I regret the error.

So how long will it take? What’s a good estimate? One constraint, according to one security expert, is the low literacy rate of the Afghan people. Recruiting above a certain amount of illiterates is to sacrifice competence.

Here is an estimate of what can sustain the forces. “I’d estimate that we could have 200,000 [soldiers] and 200,000 [police] in five years if we start working it all-out this year (2009), but that’s very rough,” emails a knowledgeable source. ”It’s also very important.”

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