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Why So Few Afghan National Security Forces?

“I’m comfortable with the entire plan,” Gen. McChrystal says in reference to a question from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Amb. Eikenberry agrees. About the July 2011 date. “The commitment to a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and the Afghan people … is very, very important,” McChrystal elaborates. “The president has provided our force with additional combat forces” to provide “time and space to reverse Taliban momentum and make progress … in the next 18 months.” Simultaneously they will be “growing the Afghan security capability.” So July 2011 “has a positive forcing function on our Afghan partners.” There is, however, “an information operations challenge” by the Taliban to portray the July 2011 date as withdrawal.

Levin gets a clarification from McChrystal: There are 16,700 Afghan forces (Army, not police) in the south and 23,300 in the east. Why such lopsided U.S.-to-Afghan ratios, Levin asks. “There are not yet enough Afghan Army and Afghan national police,” McChrystal responds. But he said in the south it’ll get down to one Afghan per 1.23 U.S. troops in the spring. Levin is unsatisfied. “There are simply not yet enough Afghan national Army to meet everyone’s requiring,” McChrystal continues, saying 60 new Afghan Army companies will go to Helmand soon. “The ratio is still going to be overwhelmingly American,” Levin sighs. McChrystal accepts Levin’s point.

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