Picture of the day: Rust in peace

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The Independent Online

At first glance, it may look as though these soldiers are honing their skills inside a specially designed army training facility.

But this was not an exercise in a purpose-built practice arena. Instead, what you see are the remnants of a brutal 20-year war with the Soviets. The photo, taken at the weekend, shows Afghan National Army soldiers marching in Kabul among discarded tanks and armoured personnel carriers that were destroyed during the Soviet occupation and subsequent civil war.

Nato has announced plans to grow the Afghan National Army from about 97,000 troops to 171,600 by the end of next year, in a bid to help the Afghan government towards self-sufficiency and reduce US and British presence on the ground. It also plans to increase the 94,000 officers in the Afghan National Police to about 134,000 during the same period. President Barack Obama last month called for an expansion of almost 260,000 Afghan troops within the next five years.

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