Afghan forces ready for security transition: Azimi
As part of the NATO-approved process, foreign troops will gradually transfer control of the country's security to their Afghan counterparts.
Scheduled to begin in July, the transition will Bamiyan, Panjsher, Kabul (minus Sarobi district) Herat City, Mazar-i-Sharif, Mahtarlam and Lashkargah shifted to the Afghan security lead in the first phase.
No one should have any doubts about the proposed security handover starting on schedule, a defence ministry spokesman said. The process will be completed in 2014.
Gen. Zahir Azimi told reporters in Kabul: "Given the present level of our capability and preparations, I see no major hurdle to the security transfer plan." Based on the ability of Afghan forces, the decision was not a random move, he said.
In order to enable the local forces to better shoulder the responsibility, the United States had purchased $1.4 billion military equipment for Afghanistan, the spokesman added.
The aircraft, armoured vehicles and other military tools purchased so far had helped enhance the Afghan forces' capabilities, but the equipment was inadequate, Azimi said, urging greater international assistance.
He continued the US had set aside an additional $20 billion for equipping the Afghan security personnel. The army strength would increase to 171,000 from the current 167,000 over the next four months, he said.
Also present at the news briefing, International Security Assistance Force spokesman Gen. Josef Blotz hoped their Afghan counterparts would be able to take the security lead by the end of 2014.
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