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Afghan National Army

The Afghan National Army (ANA) is being developed by the United States, France and United Kingdom to take primary responsibility for land-based military operations. The United States has provided uniforms and other basic equipment, while weapons have come from former Soviet bloc countries.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai set a goal of an army of 70,000 men by 2009. By January, 2003 just over 1,700 men in five battalions had completed the 10-week training course, and by June 2003 a total of 4,000 forces had been trained. Initial recruiting problems lay in the lack of cooperation from regional warlords and of committed international support.

In attempts to create an army that is ethnically balanced, regional commanders were asked to contribute recruits. However, Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ismail Khan were unwilling to make such concessions. In spite of promises for decent salaries, soldiers in the new Army initially received only $30 a month during training and $50 after graduation, although pay for trained soldiers rose to $70. Some of the recruits were under 18 years of age and most could not read or write. Recruits who spoke only Pashto had difficulties because instructions were given through interpreters who spoke Dari (the national language).

Growth continued, however, and the ANA expanded to 5,000 trained soldiers that July. On July 23, about 1,000 ANA soldiers, together U.S-led coalition troops, were deployed in Operation Warrior Sweep, marking the first major combat operation for the Afghan troops.

On September 29, a new battalion (the 11th) was ready, boosting the force to about 6,000. The 11th battalion was a combat support battalion for the army's 3rd Brigade, and was capable of providing engineering, medical and scout skills.

Also, to thwart and dissolve localized militias, the Afghan government offered cash and vocational training for members to disarm.