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US reports spike in attacks against Afghan police

US reports spike in attacks against Afghan police

Attacks on Afghan security forces increased nearly threefold last year as U.S. officials struggled to find enough military staff to train them, according to a report that details the problems President Barack Obama faces as he seeks to stabilize the troubled nation.
Obama recently announced a plan to send 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan and is weighing a request by ground commanders to send even more. Meanwhile, the president is conducting a sweeping strategy review intended to define the U.S. mission.
In a report Monday, the Government Accountability Office said attacks on local forces in Afghanistan increased from 97 to 289 between October 2007 and October 2008. The national police force were most often targeted, losing an average of 56 policemen each month in 2007 and 2008.
The GAO noted, however, that U.S. and Afghan officials have made gains in the country, including overhauling the structure of the police. More U.S. personnel would be needed to bolster existing programs that already have proved successful, the report said.
For example, the U.S. Defense Department determined that about three-quarters of the police units trained through a particular program were capable of at least partially conducting operational missions with help. While such results are deemed promising in a poor country struggling to build up independent security forces, officials estimate that 1,500 more U.S. troops are needed to expand the program. Previously, officials had been able to redirect staff assigned to train Afghan army units, but demand for U.S. trainers has increased as officials try to boost the Afghan army from 80,000 to 134,000 individuals.
A separate U.S.-led program helped to trim a too-large officer corps in the Afghan National Police and boost pay for the rank and file.
Japan will pay six months' salary for Afghanistan's 80,000 policemen, an effort to curb violence so aid workers can attend to humanitarian needs, two senior Japanese envoys said Monday after meeting with the U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The $124 million will be handed over by the end of March for distribution by a U.N. Development Program fund. They said the money is part of a $300 million Japanese package that also will pay for children's vaccines and new clinics, teachers and schools. Japan has pledged $2 billion in aid for Afghanistan, of which nearly $1.5 billion has been handed out.
Democratic U.S. Rep. John Tierney, who chairs a subcommittee that oversees national security issues, said the problems in Afghanistan have been identified for some time and need to be fixed now.
"The sooner we get the Afghans trained, the sooner our troops can come home," Tierney said.
Congress has been widely supportive of Obama's plan to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, although a few lawmakers have said they worry there is no end in sight to the U.S. commitment.
Sen. Ben Nelson, a moderate Democrat, has asked the administration to identify benchmarks to track progress in the war. In 2007, Nelson was among those in Congress who pressed then-President George W. Bush to parcel out U.S. aid for Iraq based on the government's ability to meet certain goals.
"As the deployments of additional troops are ordered to Afghanistan, I urge you not to forget recent history and the difficult lessons learned from the war in Iraq," Nelson wrote in identical letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. "For too long, our standards to measure success there were vaguely defined."
Anti-war groups on Monday circulated in congressional offices a letter to Obama denouncing his decision. So far, eight House members had signed the letter.
The 2001 congressional authorization "to use military force in Afghanistan allowed military action `to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States,'" the letter says. "Continuing to fight a counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan does not appear to us to be in keeping with these directives, and an escalation may actually harm U.S. security."
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Associated Press writer Foster Klug contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-17 02:09 GMT+08:00