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Letter to the Editor: Help That Afghans Need Now

By M. Ashraf Haidari

Washington Post


The April 6 editorial "NATO's Fudges" correctly cautioned that while more troops from NATO are welcome in Afghanistan, our security challenges are simply too large to be effectively remedied by an additional battalion or two.

The Taliban's cross-border terrorism is approaching a tipping point. Afghanistan needs just about two additional brigades (7,500 troops) to boost efforts to defeat the Taliban and turn back its planned spring offensive in Afghanistan.

Ultimately, the key to defeating the Taliban will rest in reforming, equipping, paying and sustaining the Afghan national security forces. To hasten the process, NATO allies must firmly recommit to providing the required military and police trainers to help Afghanistan reach its goal of 80,000 soldiers for the Afghan National Army (ANA) and 82,000 police officers for the Afghan National Police by the end of 2009.

Specifically, Afghanistan needs more than 70 operational mentoring and liaison teams -- each comprising 16 to 20 men -- to train ANA units. We also need 2,300 police trainers to implement the district police development program currently underway.

Without immediate action on the part of NATO allies to meet these basic needs, Afghanistan's democratic achievements of the past six years could be endangered.

M. ASHRAF HAIDARI is the Political Counselor of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington DC.

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