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US proposal to cut troops, police forces could endanger Afghanistan: Defense Minister

Kabul, Sat, 18 Feb 2012 ANI

Kabul, Feb.18 (ANI): Afghanistan's Defense Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak has warned that an American proposal to reduce the size of Afghan security forces by more than one-third after 2014 could lead to a catastrophe in the country.


In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, General Wardak said that the Hamid Karzai-led government has legitimate fears about being abandoned after most foreign troops withdraw.


The minister's reaction comes in the wake of Washington circulating a new proposal to cut troops to 230,000 after 2014, from 352,000 this year.


U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger, commander of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that a proposal to reduce troops had been discussed at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ministerial meeting in Brussels recently.


The smaller Afghan force, estimated to cost some 4.1 billion dollars a year, reflects "our assessment of what the international community will provide and what the Afghans can provide for themselves," General Bolger said.


The Afghan government is still negotiating with the U.S. over what kind of American military presence, if any, will remain in the country after that deadline.


With most of the U.S.-led coalition forces scheduled to leave Afghanistan by late 2014, a robust Afghan army and police will be needed to keep the Taliban insurgency at bay.


The recent proposal to cut the force's size after 2014 has been produced by a "U.S.-only planning team," and does not yet reflect an agreed position of the allied governments, General Bolger said.


The U.S. now spends some 11.2 billion dollars a year on Afghan security forces-well above the Afghan government's annual budget. (ANI)


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