KABUL - The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the international community have agreed to raise the number of Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers to 195,000 by the end of October, an official said on Saturday.
The ultimate goal was even a higher number, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi told a press conference in Kabul.
The government and global fraternity had agreed to increase the number of Afghan soldiers to 195,000, but the ministry expected an army of 250,000 by October 2012.
Under the agreement with the international community, the figure is to reach 250,000 soldiers by the end of 2014 when the ANA would be fully equipped and trained.
Many positive changes had taken place in the army, which could satisfactorily perform its duties, the chief of army staff said.
"In aspects of education and operational missions, the Afghan army has reached a stage where it can independently plan and conduct operations," he added.
Currently, the Afghan troops independently conduct more than 60 percent of operations, an ability they did not have in the past, the COAS continued.
They planned to further improve the capacity and education level of ANA officials to enable them to conduct operation 100 percent independently, he said.
For the first time, the ANA commando brigade independently conducted a three hours offensive against militants in the Ghorband district of central Parwan province.
The Afghan army has acquired equipment used by NATO-led troops in the country, according to Gen. Karimi.