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German General Calls for More NATO Troops in Afghanistan

German NATO General Egon Ramms has said the alliance needs up to 6,000 more troops now in Afghanistan to help stabilize the violence-wracked country.

Soldiers from the Afghan National Army, and Canadian soldiers return from a patrol in the town of Panjwayi in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan

If NATO doesn't get reinforcements, its mission will be prolonged, said General Ramms

The NATO general, head of the Allied Joint Forces Command in Brunssum, Netherlands, told German public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Sunday, June 22, that 5,000 to 6,000 additional troops were needed to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.

"We need these soldiers very soon as we need to hold onto certain areas," said Ramms. "We need to create trust among the Afghan population because we want to hand over this responsibility in 2010, 2011 or 2012 to the Afghan forces when they are prepared.

"In other words, the forces that I am now lacking could delay the withdrawal of NATO and ISAF," the NATO-led mission to Afghanistan, Ramms added.

Police training lagging

General Egon Ramms

Ramms says the NATO mission in Afghanistan is hampered by a lack of troops

Ramms also emphasized the importance of the police training mission, which is currently led by the US. Police training had fallen behind military training by two to two and a half years, he said, adding that the US, which recently bolstered the mission with $3.6 billion and 2,800 instructors, had already done a lot to pick up the pace.

"We recognized the important of the police too late," said Ramms.

The general also said that establishing a strong corruption-free Afghan military and police force was essential to create a positive rapport with the Afghan people.

"The key to success in fighting the Taliban is with the local population," he said, adding that local residents who trusted ISAF would inform them of planned attacks.

Germany may boost troops

NATO currently has around 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, but a resurgent Taliban has gained ground over the past two years. Germany has fixed its participation in ISAF at 3,500 troops, however parliament is due to reconsider the nature and size of Germany's involvement later this year.

German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung said on Saturday that he supports deploying an additional 1,000 German soldiers to Afghanistan.

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