Afghanistan: March 3, 2004

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The Afghan army is up to about 7.500 troops. There are sufficient foreign and Afghan trainers to train about 2,500 new troops at a time. In the next month, army strength will be up to 10,000 troops at a time and this Summer, the training program will be expanded to handle 5,000 troops at a time. This would get the army strength to over 30,000 early next year. Hundreds of officers are returning from overseas training programs and desertions have been reduced (by improving pay, living conditions and leadership.) Recruits start at $57 a month, going up to $77 a month after they finish their initial training. Pay tops out at $850 a month for senior generals (who also get much better housing, food allowances and other fringe benefits.) Troops receive "combat pay" of about $2 a day if they are sent off on field operations.

NATO has agreed to provide more troops (6,400 are already in Afghanistan) to provide security forces for other Afghan cities. No number was mentioned, but in the past, there were frequent requests to increase the NATO force to at least 10,000 troops.

 

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