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Need more Afghan forces: US commander

world Updated: Jul 09, 2009 12:24 IST

A US commander leading the latest American offensive against the Taliban in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan has acknowledged that there is a shortage of Afghan forces and they need more local forces to successfully continue with their military operation.

“We don’t have enough Afghan forces, and I would like more,” Marine Corps Brigadier General Lary Nicholson told Pentagon reporters over a teleconference from Afghanistan yesterday.

As against 4,000 Marines in Helmand there are just 600 to 650 Afghan forces as part of the operation, he said. “Imagine if I had 4,000 Marines with 4,000 Afghan forces. I mean, it would not even be comparable to the relative success that we’ve had over these first seven days,” Nicholson said.

Although there are plans to increase the strength of the Afghan forces, Nicholson said. “I would have liked to have had more. They are just not available right now,” he said, adding the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan is working very hard to create more formations of Afghan forces.

Nicholson said the Afghan army is force multipliers. “As you move through areas, they see things we will never see. They understand intuitively what’s going on in an area that we’ll just never get, no matter how much cultural training our guys get. So they are absolutely essential,” he said.