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General sees 'progress' in Afghan troops

Sept. 12, 2012 at 11:35 AM

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Sept. 12 (UPI) -- A top U.S. general in Afghanistan says he has seen "a lot of progress" in the abilities of Afghan security forces during the 10 years he's been in the country.

Maj. Gen. James L. Huggins Jr. says the years spent on building infrastructure and recruiting means Afghan troops can now focus on training and operations, Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

Huggins, a third-generation soldier, commanded NATO forces in Afghanistan's Regional Command-South during the past year.

Last week, he returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., and will soon assume the role of Army deputy chief of staff for operations and plans at the Pentagon.

Speaking about achievements in the Afghan army, he said, "Capacity has increased, but now with our partners, we're focusing on developing capability. And we've seen some real progress, most notably in the army, their ability to conduct operations, plan operations and execute them."

Huggins added: "I'm not trying to be overly optimistic, but it is a trend that they are being able to sustain."

Overall, the general said, peace is more visible in the region under his command. In Kandahar, he said, and the International Security Assistance Force reports violence was down 70 percent in the 12-month period that ended in March.

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