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'NATO force insufficient for Afghanistan'

A general says the NATO-led forces in Afghanistan do not have the means to secure the country in the face of a barrage of insurgent attacks.

world Updated: Nov 30, 2007 10:15 IST

NATO-led forces in Afghanistan do not have the means to secure the country in the face of a barrage of insurgent attacks, a senior French general with the force has warned.

"The 41,OOO soldiers in ISAF are largely insufficient to ensure security," aid Brigadier General Vincent Lafontaine, the chief of planning for the International Security Assistance Force deployed in Kabul under a UN mandate.

"That does not mean we are going to lose this operation, but it is going to take a lot longer for us to finish the job," Lafontaine told visiting journalists this week at ISAF headquarters in the Afghan capital.

The officer -- one of the most senior in France's 1,070-Strong contingent in Kabul also expressed concern about the chronic shortage of transport helicopters used to move soldiers and supplies around the war-ravaged country.

The United States provides most of the helicopters, but is due to start pulling them out in early 2008.

Lafontaine said as a result, top-level NATO officials were now mulling the possibility of outsourcing logistics tasks to private helicopter companies.

NATO has long called for the 38 nations involved in ISAF to contribute more to beat the intensifying conflict.

But the high cost of the operation in Kabul -- both financial and personal, with more than 210 international soldiers killed this year alone -- has made it unpopular in several countries.

Lafontaine insisted the NATO-led force had "scored some points and put pressure" on the Taliban-led insurgents, crippling their ability to stage mass attacks involving hundreds of fighters like they did a year ago.