[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/08/afghanistan.offensive/art.marines.afghan.gi.jpg caption="U.S. Marines fire a mortar Wednesday in Afghanistan's Helmand province, where they're fighting the Taliban."]
The commander of the U.S. Marines conducting a push against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan said Wednesday that more Afghan security forces are needed to do the job.
"I'm not going to sugarcoat it. The fact of the matter is we don't have enough Afghan forces. And I'd like more," said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Helmand province.
Nicholson briefed reporters at the Pentagon by phone from Afghanistan.
Called Operation Khanjar, the push against the Taliban started Thursday with 4,000 American troops, mostly U.S. Marines, and around 650 Afghan forces.
"I'd like to have every Marine battalion partnered with an Afghan battalion," Nicholson said.
"Imagine if I had 4,000 Marines with 4,000 Afghan forces. I mean, it would ... not even be comparable to ... the relative success that we've had over these first seven days."
Nicholson added that police units aren't as well trained as he would like and he plans to work to improve the quality of those forces, including the opening of a police academy.
Filed under: Afghanistan
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