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NATO to Consider Maintaining Larger Afghan Force

Posted at: 02/21/2013 11:15 AM
By: LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

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BRUSSELS (AP) - Senior NATO officials say the alliance is strongly considering a proposal to continue funding an Afghan security force of 352,000 troops through 2018, as part of an effort to maintain security and help convince Afghanistan that America and its allies will not abandon it once combat troops leave in 2014.

Last May, NATO agreed to underwrite an Afghan force of about 230,000, at a cost of about $4.1 billion a year. It's not clear how much the larger force will cost.

A senior NATO official said the international partners must help to build the confidence of Afghan forces and make it clear that NATO is committed to an enduring relationship with Afghanistan.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plan publicly.

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