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Afghan National Army Gets U.S. Assistance - 2003-05-01


U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld traveled Thursday to Afghanistan - where he declared that major combat operations there are over. VOA-TV’s Jim Bertel reports the announcement followed a meeting with Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

Secretary Rumsfeld says U.S.-led forces are making a key transition to help rebuild the war ravaged country.

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
“We're at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction activities.”

U.S. officials are hopeful countries that were once hesitant to commit forces to combat in Afghanistan now send reconstruction help. Still, Mr. Rumsfeld says pockets of resistance remain in Afghanistan and coalition combat operations will continue to target remnants of the Taliban and Al-Qaida terrorist network.

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
"We will be continuing as a country to work with the Afghan government and the new Afghan National Army to see that any areas where there is resistance to this government and to the coalition forces will be dealt with properly and efficiently."

Earlier, the secretary of defense visited a training facility where U.S. troops are working with the Afghan National Army. 700 Afghan soldiers each month are passing through the facility. The U.S. is hoping to have 9,000 Afghan soldiers trained by June 2004.

Mr. Rumsfeld watched some of the basic training being given to the Afghan soldiers. He also spoke to dozens of U.S. Special Operation forces who are training the Afghans.

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