Afghan Troop Size Numbers to Watch
Gen. Stanley McChrystal is citing these figures in the expansion of the Afghan security forces as an accomplishment of his first year in command of the Afghanistan war:
“A year ago, there were about 150,000 total Afghan national security forces,” he said. “Today, there are 230,000. That’s a significant growth in a 12-month period. In 18 months – that 12, plus the next six months – we will have equaled the growth of the last seven years, so you can see that pace has accelerated.”
But numbers aren’t the whole story, McChrystal said. The quality of Afghan forces is moving ahead rapidly over the past year through coalition forces working side by side with their Afghan partners.
“Today, about 85 percent of the Afghan National Army has real partnerships as they go around the battlefield,” he said. Though the Afghan forces are many years away from a level of professionalism that would be expected of long-standing forces such as the U.S. Army, the general said, they have made significant progress.
Keep an eye on those figures tomorrow morning when Gen. David Petraeus and Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about Afghanistan. With the Marja offensive an unsettled operation and the Kandahar “process” subject to some delays, security force expansion is likely to be a key focus of tomorrow’s hearing, especially considering committee chairman Carl Levin’s (D-Mich.) consistent advocacy for emphasizing the training mission in the war effort.