Afghan Force Strength Growing Faster than Projected

9 Dec 2010
Helmand Police Training Centre (HPTC), the UK and Afghan partnered training institution for Afghan National Police, celebrated its first anniversary Dec. 5, 2010. The center, just outside Helmand's provincial capital Lashkar Gah, was established last year to provide a formalized training course for Afghan National Police to raise the standard of policing across the province. To date, the center has trained 1,593 policemen and 160 junior commanders, and a further 488 are currently in training. The 2000th recruit is set to graduate Dec. 29.
Larger-than-expected increases in the size of the Afghan National Security Force are enabling Afghan forces to take an ever-larger role in providing for their country's security – an encouraging sign that they will be able to take the lead by the 2014 transition date outlined during the Lisbon summit, NATO and ISAF spokesmen said today during a press conference at International Security Assistance Force Headquarters.

In the last week, a three-day, Afghan-led operation in northwestern Kandahar province uncovered a large weapons cache, with help from Afghan civilians, German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, ISAF spokesman, said.

"ANSF seized a large amount of small arms and weapons totaling over 100 rocket propelled grenades, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, 70 automatic weapons, and nearly 60 grenades," Blotz said.

Afghan National Police also detained a man in Zabul province transporting 1,000 kilograms of ammonium nitrate from Pakistan.

In a joint operation, Afghan and coalition forces destroyed more than 10,600 kilograms of homemade explosives this week, including 40 complete homemade bombs and materials to construct more than 200 more.

These statistics show the ANSF's growing capability and is a reflection of ANSF's growing numbers, said Blotz.

In Herat, nearly 300 recruits graduated from the 14-week Afghan Border Police training course this week. Next year, more than 10,000 recruits are expected to graduate the ABP course. A firefighting course also graduated 27 Afghan National Army members this week.

"Afghan forces number about 263,000 today, exceeding expectations by several thousand," said Blotz. "We are very confident that they will be ready to defend their country in 2014."

That does not mean coalition forces will leave Afghanistan at that time.

"We will stand by [Afghanistan] as long as needed," said Christopher Chambers, a spokesman for NATO's Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan. "This partnership will ensure Al-Qaida and Taliban will never be a threat to Afghanistan again."

Story by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Stacey Haga
ISAF Public Affairs Office