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Expert: More U.S. Troops Needed To Train Afghans


Here now to talk about the state of the Afghan army is retired Lieutenant General James Dubik. He oversaw training of Iraqi troops and he spent the summer in Afghanistan observing the training of troops there and he's also advising General McChrystal. Welcome to the program.

BRAND: Thank you, Madeleine. And thank you for having me.

BRAND: How many Afghan troops are necessary do you think to wage a successful counterinsurgency operation? And how many are now adequately trained?

BRAND: Well, the army is about 90,000, the police a little bit less. The absolute number I think should really be a matter of study because the size of the Afghan National Army and the size of the police forces will be a function of the geography of the country, the level of the insurgency and the speed at which we can grow them.

BRAND: I've seen the number, though, of 300,000 - around 300,000, as one number that would be necessary.

BRAND: Yeah. I think that would probably be, Madeleine, the low end. For example, in Iraq now, there are 600,000. And Afghanistan is a much larger country, much more broken up country and a much more rural country.

BRAND: And will they be able to be trained with the existing number of U.S. troops? Or do you think there will have to be more U.S. troops in country to provide the training and also the security?

BRAND: And in Iraq, we partnered up, as part of the acceleration, we partnered Iraqi forces with coalition forces, so that the Iraqis could continue to learn as they planned, prepared, executed operations in the field. And this will be, I think, a similar kind of affair in Afghanistan if we do this correctly.

BRAND: Well, would that require more U.S. troops?

BRAND: I think, yes.

BRAND: Let's talk about the recent presidential elections and there are accusations of widespread voter fraud, and many people in Afghanistan don't consider the government of Hamid Karzai legitimate. They see it as corrupt. And I'm just wondering, how do you build an Afghan army and police force that is seen as legitimate in the population if the population doesn't believe the government that runs it is legitimate.

BRAND: So, it's not an eager or sequential kind of approach that I would think is necessary, but rather a simultaneous approach that build the Afghan security forces that uses NATO forces in conjunction with Afghan National Forces to provide security of population. And there's a diplomatic or a political engagement with the Karzai government to make them perform or help them perform in a way, again, that is perceived as legitimate. These things are very difficult. But as we saw in Iraq, they can be overcome with concerted, coordinated, civil, military activity.

BRAND: Retired Lieutenant General James Dubik, thank you for joining us.

BRAND: Madeleine, thank you very much. And thanks for hosting this show on such an important topic. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.