International coalition forces based in Afghanistan are forming the first units of a new national Afghan army. Kabul's unified military school of Harb-i-Puhantun has graduated the first 350 privates, which are bound to form the first battalion of the new army.
The soldiers had ten weeks of training in accordance with NATO rules. The training was conducted by American and French instructors, reported battalion Commander Colonel Najibullah, adding that the first battalion united soldiers of every ethnic Afghan group.
According to high-ranking military officials, the new army is being formed in accordance with Western standards, not the Soviet ones like before. This means there won't be any regiments and divisions -- instead, the backbone of the army will be made of battalions, brigades and corps. In a while, the army's old Soviet-type rules will be replaced by Western ones; the same goes for armaments.
At this moment, Afghanistan's armed forces consist of two armies, one of the Afghan defence ministry, and the other of the international coalition forces.
The USA insists that the new national Afghan army comprise no more than 70,000 people. In the meantime, the army already comprises more than 150,000 people, including 80,000 officers.
The new army is sponsored by the USA. Money allowance for officers from the defence ministry troops amounts to 70 dollars; in the new army, platoon and battalion commanders get 150 and 350 dollars respectively.
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