US commander says 800 more US trainers heading to Afghanistan by March

US and Afghan soldiers conduct a joint security patrol in the center of Kandalay village, August 4, 2011

From the AP:  The number of American military trainers in Afghanistan will increase by 800 by next March, a jump of nearly 25 percent in the U.S. commitment there, the top commander in charge of training said Monday.

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who heads NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, told Pentagon reporters that even as the number of combat troops begins to drop, more trainers are needed. Afghan security forces are slated to take the lead in their country’s security by the end of 2014, when international combat troops are scheduled to leave. . . .

He said the additional trainers will help the Afghans develop specialized skills in maintenance, logistics and medical systems — things they now need the U.S. to do for them.

According to military officials, there are currently 3,300 U.S. trainers in Afghanistan, and another 1,800 international trainers.

Caldwell says just two Afghan battalions can operate independently now, but still rely on coalition forces for medical evacuation, logistics and intelligence support. He says another 124 Afghan battalions can operate with minimal support.  (photo: Getty)

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