The Afghanistan military needs more trainers and equipment in order to gain control of the country's security, President Hamid Karzai and his defense chief told Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Tuesday.
Karzai said he was satisfied with the quality of training of the Afghan army, but he said he hoped that the U.S. and its NATO allies would expedite the delivery of air transportation and other assets, which could include planes and helicopters needed to fight al-Qaida and Taliban forces. Gates, during a joint news conference with Karzai, said there is funding in the war supplemental request currently stalled in Congress, and he has repeatedly promised to continue pressing his NATO partners to meet their commitments to help Afghanistan. Gates and other U.S. military commanders also agreed there are concerns about the increased violence in Afghanistan this year. And Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez confirmed that there have been indications of growing al-Qaida activity. Noting the increase in suicide bombings - which were not a frequent problem three years ago - Rodriguez said, "We believe that it's the violent extremists that are behind it," including some who may be transferring the tactic from Iraq. Gates said that while he is also concerned about the violence, "The consistent message I heard today from both American and Afghan military leaders ... was that an important reason for the increased violence is because there is a much more aggressive effort" by coalition forces to go after the Taliban. The Afghan president presented a positive outlook on the ongoing fight against militants and terrorists. As if to underscore the concern, a suicide car bomber targeted a NATO convoy in Kabul on Tuesday not long after Gates had passed along the same road. The road was closed to other traffic while Gates traveled back by the blast site later. Military officials have long said that the Taliban in Afghanistan is being resupplied from outside the country, possibly by militants in Pakistan crossing the border, or through support from other countries in the region sympathetic to the militants. Currently there are about 26,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including 13,000 with the NATO-led coalition. The other 13,000 U.S. troops are training the Afghan forces and hunting al-Qaida terrorists. // Yahoo.com