Afghan training force short 3,500
Stars and Stripes March 29, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — The international task force building Afghanistan’s new police and military is short almost half the trainers plans call for, said its commander, Army Brig. Gen. Robert Livingston.
“Task Force Phoenix is currently about 53 percent strength of what we have documented to be our need,” Livingston told Pentagon reporters Friday during a briefing from Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.
“We’re about 3,500 short, total,” said Livingston, who is also deputy commanding general of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan.
Task force leaders have managed to “cover the army units” by reducing the size of the training teams, Livingston said.
But with just one-third the needed police trainers and 395 police districts to cover, “the police effort is not moving as fast as we would like it to,” he said.
The police training cadre will get a short-term boost later this month, with the arrival of 1,000 Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment from Twentynine Palms, Calif., for a seven-month deployment.
But while “the Marines coming in for the summer and fall will help us significantly, we’ll need a follow-up to that” once they return home, Livingston said.
Livingston said he would like to see more international participation on U.S.- dominated task force.
The U.S. provides 65 percent of the Afghan army’s trainers, and most of the police trainers — “although we do have some significant help from the Canadians and British down south” with the police, Livingston said.