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Official: Afghan army now at 180,000 troops

December 21, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan military official says the country’s armed forces now number 180,000 troops, a significant step toward having enough troops to replace departing coalition forces.

Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi said on Wednesday the troop numbers increased by more than 40,000 in 2011.

He says this brings the military closer to achieving the goal shared with the US and NATO to have 195,000 Afghan troops in the field by next October.

Coalition forces, which started their drawdown this year, are counting on the Afghan army and police to take responsibility for security in the entire country by the end of 2014.

But Azimi noted some troops are still regularly leaving the army, making it necessary to recruit and train large numbers of men just to keep up strength levels.

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