A top NATO general says the transfer of security responsibility to Afghan troops hinges on whether more alliance trainers are made available to bolster local security forces. U.S. Lieutenant-General William Caldwell urged NATO allies in Brussels Tuesday to provide 1,000 additional specialized trainers to build up Afghan forces by next year, so that Western troops can begin to withdraw from the country.
Caldwell also said the Afghan police and army need 133,000 more recruits to increase domestic security forces to more than 300,000 – another condition that could affect international troops’ departure. Casualties and low re-enlistment rates for the army and police have been problems for the Afghan government. In violence Tuesday, NATO said a coalition service member was killed in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan.
It did not identify the nationality of the soldier or give any details about the attack. Separately, Afghan police report that a suicide bomber killed the deputy governor of eastern Ghazni province. The blast that killed Mohammad Kazim Allahyar Tuesday also killed his adult son, his nephew, a guard and two civilians who were nearby at the time. In an emotional speech in Kabul, President Hamid Karzai decried such violence and said he worries it will force young Afghans to leave the country. He broke into tears at one point and said he does not want his son, Mirwais, to become a foreigner.
The speech was about education in Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai said children cannot go to school because of the threat of bombs and suicide attacks. The president’s office said Tuesday that Afghan officials are investigating reports of civilian deaths during a NATO operation in the eastern province of Laghman.
NATO said it killed 30 enemy fighters in Laghman on Saturday during a battle with more than 250 militants – both Afghan nationals and foreigners. The coalition reported at the time that there were no known civilian casualties. On Monday, NATO said it was probing the killing of an Afghan civilian by a coalition service member in Laghman the day before, but it gave no details.
Civilian casualties resulting from NATO operations have been a major source of tension between the Afghan government and members of the alliance – Voanews