Thursday, August 07, 2008

Afstan: French troops to Regional Command South

I hope this welcome French move to a dangerous area is not at the expense of their new commitment in Regional Command East--unless they're really needed more in Uruzgan province and are willing to go into the field with the Afghan Army:
Hundreds of French troops have been deployed to train and mentor Afghan security forces in a key southern province wracked by the Taliban-led insurgency, NATO said Thursday. Eight Taliban militants were also killed in the south, authorities said.

The troops travelled in 94 vehicles from Kandahar to Uruzgan province [the Dutch, by the way, are coming under pressure to extend their mission in Uruzgan beyond 2010] Wednesday in what was one of the largest ground military convoys in southern Afghanistan in years, the military alliance said in a statement.

NATO did not provide the exact number of troops deployed, and officials would not specify whether they were being relocated from other areas in Afghanistan or were new to the country.

But France has about 1,500 troops in Afghanistan, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to send 700 more soldiers by the end of the year to help NATO-led forces [those are the ones that have arrived in Kapisa province--see second link in first sentence of post]...

Troops that conduct training of the Afghan forces form the core of an alliance strategy that envisages embedding small teams of foreign soldiers with Afghan troops.

Southern Afghanistan remains the centre of the Taliban-led insurgency, and alliance commanders have complained over the years that not all NATO nations are ready to join the fight against the resurgent Taliban...

There is a shortfall of about 2,300 foreign troops to meet the training needs, said Lt. Col. Christian Kubik, a spokesman for the U.S. troops who train Afghan police and soldiers.

“If we increase the pace of training we are going to need more,” Lt. Col. Kubik said.

The Afghan National Army is scheduled to reach a strength of 70,000 soldiers by the end of this year, with an ultimate goal of 80,000 soldiers. Those numbers will likely go up to 120,000 by 2011, according to Afghan and U.S. officials [emphasis added]...


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