Pentagon hints at cut in Afghan forces’ strength
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Pentagon on Tuesday said the World Bank’s proposal to increase the size of Afghan forces to 352,000 was “its surge capacity” that would definitely come down once the security situation improved.
A day earlier, the World Bank asked Afghanistan to rightsize its military, saying that its current strength was economically unsustainable. The bank also urged foreign donors to increase their financial assistance and route it through the government.
“Currently, the size of ANSF is about 330,000. We are looking to increase to a surge capability of 352,000. We understand that over time that number may come down. We are working through that with our Afghan partners as well as our ISAF…” the Pentagon press secretary said.
George Little added the goal was to enable an Afghan force level that could be sustainable financially and in terms of providing security throughout the country. “They are doing an excellent job. They are making progress.
Little, who accompanied Defesce Secretary Leon Panetta on his visit to Afghanistan, said: “We are confident we can prepare the ground work for the ANSF. Their capabilities are growing every day. Many of the operations in Afghanistan now are Afghan-led…”
Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said about 50 percent of the Afghan population was currently living in areas where Afghans were leading security. “We expect this percentage to increase throughout the year.”
He explained there had been no decision yet on the final strength of ANSF. “Right now, the focus is on getting to their surge capacity, their surge numbers, which is 352,000. It was always intended to be a surge to 352,000. This is not going to be their final number.”
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