WASHINGTON — Stars and Stripes began printing newspapers in Afghanistan on Thursday, starting with a daily print run of 1,380 papers, and may expand its circulation after more tests are done.

The change means servicemembers serving in Afghanistan will be seeing much fresher news — papers had seen delays of up to three weeks in the previous distribution system.

Stripes had been shipping newspapers to Afghanistan from its presses in Germany via Bahrain, where, at best, papers would take five days to get to Kabul, and often much longer to reach outlying areas through the military supply system.

Stripes Publisher Tom Kelsch sees it as a significant improvement for servicemembers there, and for the organization.

“For Stripes, it means we’re better able to accomplish our mission to serve those servicemembers [deployed to Afghanistan],” Kelsch said.

The paper will be delivered daily in Kabul, Kandahar, Camp Phoenix (near Kabul) and Bagram Air Base. Papers will also be distributed via the military postal system to 10 other posts.

Readers will now be receiving the Middle East edition in Stripes, currently being tailored to audiences in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, rather than the Europe editions. Also included will be Sunday comics, which are actually in the Saturday edition.

Stripes currently prints about 60,000 copies of its Middle East edition at print sites in Baghdad, Kuwait, and Qatar.

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