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First Battalion of New National Afghan Army Graduates - 2002-07-23


The first battalion of a new national Afghan army has graduated from training with U-S special forces in Kabul -- with a vow to serve the country and not individual warlords.

About 300 men completed the 10-week course, given by members of the U-S Army's special forces. Two more battalions are being trained, one of them by French instructors.

Although no specific details of the training were available, it is reported to have focused on teamwork, building unity across ethnic differences and discipline.

Afghan military leaders say they would like to form an army of 200-thousand men, if they can get enough financing for the effort.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai led a high-level delegation at the graduation ceremony, held at a former military academy in Kabul.

President Karzai reviewed the troops and called the emerging national army the backbone of Afghanistan. He told the soldiers they will protect the territory, independence and national security of Afghanistan and all of its people.

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