Most trainer slots for Afghanistan remain unfilled
November 10, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — The request for 3,400 trainers for Afghan troops and police remains unfilled, Defense officials said Friday.
In March, a spokesman for Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan said the trainers had been requested by the commander of Task Force Phoenix, which is in charge of training Afghan security forces.
As of Friday, no additional U.S. troops have arrived in Afghanistan this year to train Afghan security forces, said Army Brig. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., head of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VI.
“At this point, we just don’t have the available U.S. forces to bring in 3,400 and keep the same rotational schedules that are necessary to maintain U.S. troop training and U.S. troop levels,” Livingston said.
Later on Friday, a military official said 400 U.S. troops had received orders to fulfill the request for trainers, of which about 200 should have arrived in Afghanistan by August.
Defense officials were still looking into the matter by deadline Friday.
Between 700 and 800 soldiers are expected to arrive this spring in Afghanistan to help meet the request, said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mark E. Wright.
Livingston said Friday there are 5,000 to 6,000 personnel in Afghanistan training local security forces, including about 600 civilian policemen, about 125 trainers from the European Union and troops from partner nations.
The request for 3,400 trainers would effectively double the number of U.S. troops training and mentoring Afghan troops and police, Livingston said.
“That would give us essentially a training team per district, and a training team per military element, so that is certainly the ideal situation,” he said.
“What that would allow us to do is to have more one-on-one training with — and mentoring, mainly mentoring — with the Afghan police force.”
Livingston said the lack of trainers could cause “some delay” in developing the Afghan police, but he noted that the shortfall has not prevented U.S. troops from mentoring Afghan police, and he said he expects to see “significant progress” with the Afghan police by summer.
He also said the need for trainers in Afghanistan will decrease as Afghan army units begin to stand on their own next spring.