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Afghanistan Needs National Army to Improve Security

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2002 – The security situation in Afghanistan is "murky and troublesome," but the Afghans themselves are in the best position to fix it, the general in charge of U.S. operations in the region said.

The U.S. preference is to have the Afghans take the lead in every way they can and to minimize foreign presence in their country, Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., said in a teleconference with Washington and Tampa reporters.

"It's been tough in Afghanistan for a long, long time, and we certainly see it that way today," Franks said. "Now the future of Afghanistan is going to be in the hands of the Afghan people."

Central Command sent a team led by an American two-star general to study how best the United States can assist Afghanistan in establishing a national army. Franks said the team would return to Tampa Feb. 26 and formulate recommendations for review by him and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Franks said he's sure an Afghan national army is necessary and that it should encompass the country's different ethnic groups. What form such an army should take is another issue.

"I wouldn't want at all to pre-judge the executive authorities in Afghanistan as to what they will do, but it seems to me that some formulation of a national army that would include these ethnic and tribal ingredients would perhaps be a way to go," Franks said.

"We know that we want to begin the forming of this Afghan national army as quickly as we can, and we know that we want to support the initiatives of the interim authority as we see it today," he said.

Related Site of Interest:

  • U.S. Central Command Transcript:  USCENTCOM Press Briefing with Gen. Tommy Franks, Commander, Centcom; Spanish Army Brigadier General Fernando Sanchez Lafuente; And Jordanian Lieutenant Colonel Yousef Al-Hnaity, Feb. 25, 2002 [link no longer available]


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