War is Boring: Training for Afghan Forces Accelerates Ahead of 2011 Deadline

On Monday, an Afghan suicide bomber blew himself up outside a NATO police-training facility in Kandahar. The blast opened a hole in the wall that allowed two more suicide bombers to race into the compound. Afghan police opened fire, killing the two bombers before they could set off their explosives. In addition to the three bombers, one American trainer was killed and three police were injured.

The attack was a reminder of the extreme dangers faced by Afghan security force trainees and their NATO instructors. The bombing also underscored the growing importance of Afghan security forces, nearly nine years into the U.S.-led war. In anticipation of U.S. President Barack Obama's July 2011 deadline for the beginning of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, NATO instructors have ramped up their training efforts for Afghan troops -- and Islamic insurgent groups know it.

Today, the Afghan army and police together number some 200,000 personnel. "We currently have approved growth objectives to grow the army to 171,000 by October 2011, and the police to 134,000 by October 2011," U.S. Army Col. John Ferrari, from the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, told World Politics Review. NTM-A was established last year to consolidate several previous Afghan training organizations.

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