Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak says the country's national army should be fully operational within five years, removing the need for a large foreign presence in the country.
Wardak made the comment Monday in Brussels, following a meeting with NATO chiefs. He said the national army is already taking on more domestic security tasks, but that the speed at which Afghanistan will be able to defend itself will depend on the security situation in the country.
Wardak arrived at NATO headquarters for talks on the alliance's plan to expand its peacekeeping mission to southern and eastern Afghanistan. NATO now has the main security mission in northern and western Afghanistan. It is expected to move into the rest of the country by the end of the year and in the process increase its nine-thousand strong force to 16-thousand.