Sunday, March 22, 2009

US looks for large increase in Afghan police force

The United States wants to focus efforts in Afghanistan on boosting the police force, with more recruitment and training to help officers stabilize the country and rid it of extremist insurgents, the Obama administration's envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan said Saturday.

Richard Holbrooke was discussing the new U.S. administration's policy in Afghanistan during a Brussels Forum conference debate on the Afghan war, though the full strategy is expected to be revealed next week.

President Barack Obama has committed an additional 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to break a stalemate against the Taliban and other insurgents. But military advisers to Obama say the U.S. is not winning the fight, and recommend a boost in the number of civilian experts as well as military deployments to combat the insurgency.

Holbrooke said current plans to increase the Afghan police force from 78,000 to 82,000 over four years were "not sufficient." He also said the force was "riddled with corruption."

"We need to devise programs which improve the Afghan government's capability to defend itself, and that means considerably strengthening the Afghan national army and the Afghan national police," Holbrooke said.

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