Tags: gates | afghan | army

Gates Wants to Double Afghan Army Size: Report

Friday, 08 Aug 2008 09:25 AM

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates backs a 20-billion dollar plan to double the Afghan army and reshape NATO and U.S. missions to better confront the resurgent Taliban, US media reported Friday.

The plan, initially announced by the Afghan government, would boost the size of the Afghan force to 120,000 over five years through additional training and equipment and recruitment, the New York Times said.

Quoting unnamed Pentagon and military officials, the report said a Defense Department order to be signed in late August will also give U.S. army general David McKiernan, who currently heads the 45,000 strong NATO force, command of the 19,000 U.S. forces there as well.

"Taken together, the two decisions are an acknowledgement of shortcomings that continue to hinder NATO and American-led operations in Afghanistan," The New York Times said.

Gates was expected to appeal to NATO allies for contributions to the plan's 20-billion dollar price tag, the report said.

Copyright 2008 AFP

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