RealNews

New Afghan Army in First Big Combat Operation

Afghanistan’s fledgling national army has launched its first major combat operation, sweeping the Zormat Valley region in the southeast of the country for Islamic militants fighting the U.S.-backed government. About 1,000 soldiers from the now 5,000-strong Afghan National Army (ANA) were in the valley region in the southern part of Paktia province, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan said Wednesday. “Operation Warrior Sweep marks the ANA’s first major combat operation,” Colonel Rodney Davis said at a military base on the outskirts of Kabul. Davis said the ANA’s mission was to “kill, capture and deny sanctuary to anti-coalition forces,” and that it was backed by coalition forces. He declined to detail coalition participation. Asked if contact had been made with opposing forces, Davis replied: “I’d rather not say — the operation is in its early stages.” The United States and other nations in the 11,500-strong U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan have been helping to develop a new national army to take the place of regional militias loyal to provincial warlords, but progress has been slow. Early efforts were dogged by desertions, mainly due to low wages. Full Story

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