Training Taking Center Stage In Afghan War

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Building the capacity of the Afghan military and police is a primary goal of U.S. forces there as they make plans to withdraw, the U.S. State Department said.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said that 10,000 U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of this year with another 23,000 departing by September 2012. U.S. and NATO force leaders have said that preparing Afghan forces for withdrawal was vital to their mission there.

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said that as U.S. forces look toward the 2014 drawdown date, Afghan security forces needed to be trained to fill that void.

“That’s our goal,” she said.

U.S. military commanders said dramatic attacks like last week’s downing of a Chinook helicopter was indicative of a waning insurgency.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he’d like his forces to take control over the country as international forces start to leave. Ryan Crocker, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, told U.S. lawmakers last month, however, that transition plans didn’t mean there would be a “rush for the exits.”

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