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US, NATO hike Afghanistan spending

world Updated: Jan 07, 2011 00:50 IST

Hindustan Times
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The United States and its NATO allies plan to spend $11.6 billion this year building Afghanistan’s security forces, the largest yearly sum to date, as pressure mounts to shift responsibility for fighting the Taliban away from the US-led force and toward local troops.

The new funding pushes the total for 2010 and 2011 to nearly $20 billion, as much as in the seven previous years combined, according to Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the commander of NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan.

Funds already spent have purchased, among other things, 24,000 Ford Rangers, 108,000 9mm pistols, 74,000 hand-held radios, 44 helicopters and four bomb-sniffing robots.

NATO’s decision to offer details about the vast quantity of equipment provided and the steep cost to foreign taxpayers follows public criticism by Afghan officials that the West has not given Afghan soldiers and police adequate weaponry.

Last month, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman, Waheed Omer, said that he agreed that time and effort had been expended training the Afghan national security forces.

On Wednesday, Caldwell and other NATO officials disputed the notion that they have not sufficiently armed the Afghan forces, bringing in Afghan soldiers to show off their guns and mortars to reporters at Camp Eggers military base in Kabul.

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