NATO: Afghan forces will be ready in 2014

Nov. 1, 2011 at 10:30 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Afghan forces are on pace to take over security when U.S. troops leave in 2014, once attitudes about fighting change, NATO officials said.

The officers said better pay, two more years of training before the pullout and proper equipment should produce Afghan security forces that can sustain themselves well beyond 2014, USA Today reported Tuesday.

"We inherited what was left of the Taliban and the warlords," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Timothy Ray, chief of training for the Afghan air force, who briefed the Pentagon and Congress on progress. "None of that had a culture and heritage of sustainment. They just fought for today."

Now, however, "it's train, sustain and supply," Ray said. "Once you can get that cultural switch to flip, all those other things fall into place."

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, the lead budget officer for NATO's Afghanistan training mission, said emphasis is on providing Afghan forces with buildings and equipment more in aligned with the climate and culture.

U.S. taxpayers pay for training and equipping Afghan security forces, which cost $9.2 billion in fiscal year 2010, $11.6 billion in 2011 and $11.2 billion for 2012, Fuller said. Construction and equipment ate about half of the amounts and should reduce when most forces will be housed and outfitted during the next year, he said.

"We're trying to ensure we build the right infrastructure for the Afghans," Fuller said.

A Defense Department report to Congress indicated Afghan security forces will meet their requirement of 195,000 soldiers and 157,000 national police by next October. However, poor leadership and dependence on Western forces for logistics and air support still challenge Afghan forces, the report said.

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