British officer terms handing of combat operations to Afghans 'disaster'

London, Jan 14 (ANI): A top British commander serving in Afghanistan has expressed fears the handing over of combat operations in 2014 to the Afghan Army, terming such a move as a 'disaster'.

The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) has insisted they will hand over combat operations in 2014, with a minimum Afghan force strength of 400,000.

However the Afghan Defence Ministry has warned that figure might not be enough, SKY News reports.

Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman General Zaher Azimy said: "It cannot be predicted what the security situation will be like in 2014. But considering the current security situation...Afghanistan will need a security force numbering more than 400,000 to transition power in 2014."

"There's no doubt the quality of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) has increased dramatically over the past twelve months, but there are still huge problems particularly with illiteracy, drug abuse and retention," one serving British officer in Helmand Province told Sky News.

"There's still a lack of confidence in the Afghans among some of those mentoring them, but that admittedly is beginning to change. The idea that in 2014 we'll be handing over anything other than a disaster is poppycock," he added.

The second officer, training the ANP in Lashkar Gah, confessed: "We're doing the best we can, but if you're asking me if I'm entirely confident this country will be secure when we leave, I simply can't say yes."

Isaf troops involved in training the Afghans say that they are on target to meet their goal of 300,000 by October this year, and are hopeful they will live up to the commitment of 400,000 by the end of 2013. (ANI)

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