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KABUL -- Police officials from some of Afghanistan's most violent regions questioned the need for more American troops, saying it would increase the perception that the U.S. is an occupying power and that the money would be better spent on local forces.
"It is very hard for local people to accept any foreigners who come to our country and say they are fighting for our freedom," said Gen. Azizudin Wardak, the police chief in Paktia province. "To give the idea that they are not invaders, that they are not occupiers, is very difficult."
"Increasing international troops is not useful," he said. "For the expense of one American soldier, we can pay for 15 Afghan soldiers or police."
The top U.S. and NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, Adm. Gregory Smith, agreed that Afghan forces would be key to defeating the Taliban. But he added that the "major way forward" was to partner international troops with Afghan ones on a day-to-day basis, and not simply for the West to train Afghan forces and send them out on their own.
According to a July survey by the U.S.-funded International Republican Institute, 52 percent of Afghans believe the country was less stable that it was a year ago - up from 43 percent in May, when the new troops had only just begun to arrive. The survey, which interviewed 2,400 Afghan adults, had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.