Nato top brass squabbled in Belgium today over who should bridge a big shortfall in army training teams crucial to the West's so-called "exit" strategy.
United States Defence Secretary Leon Panetta lectured fellow members of the Washington-dominated military alliance as he revealed that "58 teams" are needed to see through plans to beef up wobbly Afghan forces.
"The US has filled a disproportionate number of these teams in recent years, and I ask for your help to fill the gap," Mr Panetta said, calling this a "critical moment" in the war.
A string of so-called "green on blue" attacks on Western troops by the Afghans supposedly set to form the backbone of future occupation strategy has cast doubt on the plans.
And Mr Panetta admitted as much when he hinted that a big Nato force will remain in the country long after the 2013 date set to hand front-line operations over to local militias.
"We have yet to determine the necessary size and composition of the force that will remain in Afghanistan after 2014," he declared before the summit of defence ministers, adding ominously that after this time "Nato's presence should be steadfast and effective."
Nato rubber stamped the US plan to make current supreme commander in Afghanistan General John Allen the new "supreme allied commander for Europe."
Washington's proposed replacement in Afghanistan, US General Joseph Dunford, was also waved through by members.
In a statement outgoing Gen Allen set out the strategy which the US claimed would "diminish and defeat" attacks by Afghans being trained by Westerners.
Alongside other pledges was the news that training in "cultural awareness" would be enhanced among soldiers sent to the front line of the 11-year war.
Gen Allen also betrayed the desperate situation by advocating "constant emphasis on effective use of 'guardian angels'" - Pentagon-speak for troops deployed to police situations where Afghan and western troops are working together with a specific brief to "watch people's backs."
nSix Afghan government-allied militiamen were killed today by a roadside bomb in Helmand province.
And it was reported that a member of the country's top religious council was assassinated on Tuesday in Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province.
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