More NATO Trainers Needed in Afghanistan, General Says

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2010 — More NATO train­ers are need­ed to train Afghanistan’s sol­diers and police to sup­port the coalition’s strat­e­gy to turn over secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ties to the Afghans, the com­man­der of the NATO Train­ing Mis­sion in Afghanistan told the alliance Mil­i­tary Com­mit­tee yes­ter­day.

“Tac­ti­cal gains on the bat­tle­field will not be endur­ing with­out a self-sus­tain­ing Afghan secu­ri­ty force,” Army Lt. Gen. William B. Cald­well IV said in pre­pared remarks to the com­mit­tee. The gen­er­al appealed to the mil­i­tary lead­ers for more train­ers to “pro­fes­sion­al­ize” Afghan forces and build the infra­struc­ture to sus­tain the num­bers and qual­i­ty of the force.

The mis­sion, Cald­well said, needs a thou­sand more train­ers from NATO nations. The train­ers will work with Afghan army and Afghan police forces.

There are now 143,000 coali­tion troops in Afghanistan with 95,000 of them Amer­i­can. The NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force has an oper­a­tional mis­sion, but also a mis­sion to train Afghan forces so coali­tion troops can tran­si­tion the mis­sion to them.

NATO’s train­ing mis­sion in Afghanistan is at a crit­i­cal cross­roads, the gen­er­al said. For the past year, he said, the empha­sis has been on pro­duc­ing com­bat for­ma­tions to com­bat the Tal­iban and oth­er ter­ror groups.

“But now, we must cre­ate a force that can gen­er­ate, equip and sus­tain itself to serve and pro­tect its peo­ple; there­fore, we must build the crit­i­cal sup­port for­ma­tions over the next year, and pro­fes­sion­al­ize this force,” Cald­well said. “Accom­plish­ing this mis­sion will require addi­tion­al NATO insti­tu­tion­al train­ers with spe­cial skill sets – skill sets to cre­ate and devel­op Afghan logis­ti­cians, main­tain­ers, com­mu­ni­ca­tors, intel[ligence] ana­lysts and the lead­ers this secu­ri­ty force requires.”

Cald­well said the devel­op­ment of pro­fes­sion­al Afghan mil­i­tary and police lead­ers is para­mount to achiev­ing suc­cess in Afghanistan.

“Pro­fes­sion­al­ism is the key ingre­di­ent to an endur­ing force that can serve and pro­tect its peo­ple,” the gen­er­al said. “The lim­it­ing fac­tors to build­ing this pro­fes­sion­al force are leader devel­op­ment, lit­er­a­cy and loss­es through attri­tion.”

In the U.S. Army, it takes 15 years to devel­op a bat­tal­ion com­man­der, Cald­well said. In Afghanistan – with a lit­er­a­cy rate of around 25 per­cent – the process of devel­op­ing mil­i­tary and police lead­ers is more com­pli­cat­ed, he said.

NATO train­ers also serve as role mod­els and men­tors for Afghans, the gen­er­al said, and he urged NATO mem­ber nations to pro­vide more.

“Your nations have the right peo­ple, with the right skills, in the right num­bers and the right mul­ti-nation­al expe­ri­ence,” Cald­well said. “Every one of your nations has a capa­bil­i­ty that will sus­tain the momen­tum we have cre­at­ed togeth­er in the past 10 months.”

The NATO Train­ing Mis­sion com­pris­es just 2 per­cent of the coali­tion forces cur­rent­ly deployed to Afghanistan, but their impact is enor­mous, Cald­well said.

“Our train­ers have gen­er­at­ed an Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Force that today makes up 63 per­cent of all secu­ri­ty forces,” he said. “By improv­ing their capa­bil­i­ty to gen­er­ate, equip, field and sus­tain their force, we have begun to cre­ate a force that will be able to take the lead for secu­ri­ty in the future. This would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the pro­fes­sion­al train­ers from your coun­tries.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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