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U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, speaks during a news conference on Thursday at Kandahar Airfield about the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. With Jones were senior NATO military and civilian officials, including Greek Adm. Panagiotis Chinofotis, chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, the equivalent to the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, speaks during a news conference on Thursday at Kandahar Airfield about the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. With Jones were senior NATO military and civilian officials, including Greek Adm. Panagiotis Chinofotis, chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, the equivalent to the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — More than 2,000 soldiers will be added to the International Security Assistance Force by September to provide security for legislative elections, bringing the total number of its troops in Afghanistan to about 11,000.

Included in those figures will be an additional company of U.S. soldiers, ISAF commander Turkish Lt. Gen. Ethem Erdagi said during a news conference at the Kandahar Airfield on Thursday.

ISAF is made up primarily of NATO forces and is expanding its mission, which was previously restricted to the Kabul area.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, also spoke during a short stop at the base by a handful of military and civilian officials. Jones also serves as head of the U.S. European Command based in Stuttgart, Germany.

NATO is working on expanding its role in Afghanistan, according to the ISAF Web site, and will eventually control about half of the country’s nearly 650,000 square miles.

“[NATO] nations are expressing interest in expansion,” Jones said Thursday at Kandahar’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation center coffee bar. “I’m optimistic we’ll be successful.”

But those successes are coming on concerns about both getting supplies to Afghanistan and a shortage of helicopter and C-130 cargo aircraft for ISAF. “It’s no secret,” Jones said about the shortage. “Countries are taking them back ... [but there is] a constant requirement.”

ISAF officials are working with countries to fix the shortage.

“We know what we need,” added Erdagi.

Jones said that a recent status of forces agreement with Russia may ease the movement of equipment and supplies between Europe and Afghanistan.

“It could lend [itself to become] an alternate means of delivery of supplies ... other than by air,” Jones said, not adding any specific details. “This could make a difference.”

Both Jones and Erdagi said that despite some problems, ISAF is making progress in Afghanistan.

Attacks in areas under ISAF’s control, Erdagi said, are down 50 percent from 18 months ago.

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