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UN official supports expansion of Afghan National Army
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09:36, September 11, 2008

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A United Nations official from the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) in Afghanistan said Wednesday that it supported the expansion of Afghan National Army to 134,000 personnel.

The Board held a meeting on Wednesday in Afghan capital Kabul. Established for the overall strategic coordination and implementation of the Afghanistan Compact, the board consists of senior Afghan Ministers and representatives of the international community.

"I welcome the decision taken today to expand the Afghan National Army (ANA) which will be a huge step towards ensuring the Afghan Government has the number of soldiers it needs," said Kai Eide, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan and co-chair of JCMB.

The UN official noted that the step will empower ANA gradually take over the responsibility for the security of war-torn Afghanistan.

"We all know that ensuring security for all Afghans is of paramount importance," Kai Eide said, "there is now a real sense of urgency to build on the commitments and progress that were made at the Paris Conference in June 2008."

The strength of Afghan armed forces, according to Afghan Defense Ministry, so far has reached up to around 76,665.

However, the ministry said in 2007 that 70,000 troops is not enough to protect the country's security.

Afghan government has also said that the war-torn country needs150,000 to 200,000 armed forces to ensure security and defend its geographical boundaries.

In fact, Afghan forces has taken over the responsibility for security in Kabul since the end of the past August from international troops amid the upsurge of Taliban offensives in and around the capital.


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