Published March 16, 2006
WASHINGTON – Military leaders in Afghanistan are seeing growing similarities between roadside bombs and homicide attacks in Afghanistan and those in Iraq, but they are not sure whether the technology or the terrorists themselves are crossing the border, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday.
"We're starting to see some tactics, technology and procedures that may have come from training in Iraq," said Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, a top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. "But, how they got that, where the bomb maker came from ... we're still trying to get full awareness of that."
Speaking from Afghanistan to Pentagon reporters, Freakley said the bomb makers may not be moving across the mountain border from Pakistan or Iraq. But he said some of the techniques and technology appear to have come from the same trainers who instructed insurgents in Iraq.
Freakley said he expects U.S. and NATO troops will be in Afghanistan for several more years but noted that local army and police forces are working more with coalition troops. And in some cases, he said, Afghan army companies and one or two battalions are conducting operations aided only by small coalition training teams of seven to 10 people.
Currently there are about 22,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, while the Afghan national army numbers about 27,000.
As the weather in Afghanistan improves, some of the mountain passes have cleared and troops are starting to see small groups of young military-age men moving around, increasing the possibility for new spikes in violence, Freakley said.
It's also possible, he said, that the groups — from two to 15 men each — are trying to find agricultural work.