Long slog for US Marines in Afghanistan

Afghan General Mahaiuddin Ghori visited Camp Pendleton and held a press conference today thanking Marines and their families.

Ghori commands the British-trained Afghan National Army’s 3rd Kandak, 205 Hero Corps (3/205) brigade in Afghanistan’s Helmand province — the world’s largest poppy growing region.

By April, Camp Pendleton units are expected to lead about 20,000 Marines serving in Helmand, and Ghori and his men are here to help the U.S. troops train them. Here they are at the Marine’s “combat town”

Ghori has been fighting for years. He was a former officer in the 1980s pro-Soviet Afghan army fighting the mujehadin. His 3/205 brigade fires Soviet D-30s, 122mm howitzers. Ghori himself trained at Moscow’s Frunze Academy.

Asked about President Barack Obama’s timeline for withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan starting around July 2011, Ghori said his army needs a longer partnership: “I’m hoping for more time in order to properly train our forces.”

How much time?

Last month, Ghori said he expected it would take 5-6 years for Afghan troops to take over the country’s security, and they would need to depend on foreigners for many years after. He said “a long time, 10-15 years are needed for mentoring in new equipment, new airplanes, education, pilots engineers and commanders..”

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