NATO: $20 billion over 2 years for Afghan training

Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, commander of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, giving a press conference, Jan. 5, 2011.

From Tarek El-Tablawy, the AP:  By the end of the year, NATO will have spent $20 billion on developing Afghan security forces since the start of 2010 and will maintain a training presence through at least 2016, the commander of the training mission said Wednesday.

Soaring illiteracy rates among service members and a shortage of specialized trainers, however, remain major hurdles as Afghans prepare to take control of securing their nation by the 2014 deadline for NATO to withdraw combat forces, said U.S. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell. …

The $20 billion for 2010 and 2011 is paying for training, equipment and infrastructure. The figure is a large increase over the $20 billion spent between 2003 and 2009. …

The mission still needs 397 specialized trainers such as doctors, nurses, logisticians and maintenance specialists, Caldwell said.

Nonetheless, progress has been made.

The Afghan army now has 149,553 personnel, according to NATO figures, and is projected to grow to 171,600 by October. The air force is slated to grow from 4,098 personnel in December to 5,500 by November. The police force, meanwhile, is projected to hit 134,000 by October, up from 115,584 by the end of last year.  (photo: AP)

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