Afghan National Army reaches strength ahead of schedule

KABUL — In a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment for the country’s rapid­ly expand­ing secu­ri­ty capa­bil­i­ty, the Afghan Nation­al Army announced August 10 at the Min­istry of Defense that it reached the bench­mark strength of 134,000 sol­diers two months ahead of sched­ule.

Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC)
Kab­ul, Afghanistan — Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA) sol­diers wait in for­ma­tion to began a train­ing exer­cise on Kab­ul Mil­i­tary Train­ing Cen­ter (KMTC).
Source: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Air­man Matt Davis
Click to enlarge

The announce­ment, made by Maj. Gen. Zahir Azi­mi in a press con­fer­ence held joint­ly with the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force, sig­ni­fied that progress in recruit­ing and reten­tion is out­pac­ing attri­tion in recent months, and con­grat­u­la­tions on the achieve­ment were imme­di­ate­ly extend­ed by ISAF spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz. 

Emblem­at­ic of the grow­ing capa­bil­i­ty of the army were the oth­er top­ics of dis­cus­sion, which includ­ed flood relief in the east­ern provinces, spe­cial forces oper­a­tions against insur­gent net­works, and planned secu­ri­ty for next months’ par­lia­men­tary elections. 

Asked if the assis­tance pro­vid­ed recent­ly to Pak­istan to aid in their flood relief efforts meant that vic­tims in Log­ar and Pak­tya provinces suf­fered more, Azi­mi replied that help­ing a neigh­bor did not pre­clude sav­ing Afghan lives. He point­ed out that 2,186 Afghan lives were saved by the mil­i­tary in oper­a­tions con­duct­ed by both avi­a­tion and ground forces. 

Azi­mi also respond­ed to ques­tions on whether ris­ing casu­al­ties indi­cate poor coor­di­na­tion between the ANA and ISAF, invit­ing reporters to see for them­selves the coor­di­na­tion cen­ter. He empha­sized that this is an Afghan fight, and that con­se­quent­ly, Afghan sol­diers will bear more of the bur­den. “The Coali­tion came a long way to be here, and they have suf­fered more casu­al­ties than at any oth­er point, so remem­ber that in war, even suc­cess in bat­tle comes at a price,” said Azimi. 

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