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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 17:51 GMT
Security force inspects Kabul
British marines
Troops have started arriving to join the UK-led force
By Ian MacWilliam in Kabul

Senior officers from 12 nations which will contribute to the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan have arrived in the capital Kabul.

There are clear language difficulties and very significant cultural differences. We're going to have to work very hard to establish the effective partnership we seek with the Afghan authorities

HQ chief of staff, Colonel Richard Barrons

The 25-member delegation has been touring sites in the city along with members of the British unit which has been setting up the force's headquarters.

The countries represented, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, are those which will send troops to the British-led force.

The new headquarters for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is located in the walled compound of a former officers' sports club in central Kabul.

Logistical challenge

The main building is now being repaired for winter use, and electricity and water facilities are being installed.

Members of the British enabling unit, already on the ground, have been briefing the multi-national reconnaissance delegation.

Colonel Richard Barrons, the headquarters chief of staff, said the international force faces a significant logistical challenge, as all vehicles and other equipment have to be brought by air.

"(They) will face the same challenges that we do, of bringing forces in the main part from Europe, by air into Afghanistan, in the middle of the winter, and then deploying and sustaining them here," he said.

Contingents of international troops are expected to begin arriving soon, with substantial numbers in place by mid-January.

The head of the German delegation, Colonel Reinhold Schmidt, said the first German soldiers should begin arriving even before then.

Elements of the force, which could eventually total up to 4,500 troops, will have several other bases in the capital, from where they will take part in maintaining security alongside Afghan police.

The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Kabul
"All the troops and their equipment will have to come in by air"
See also:

01 Jan 02 | Americas
Bush appoints Afghan envoy
31 Dec 01 | South Asia
UK increases Kabul presence
29 Dec 01 | South Asia
Marines patrol streets of Kabul
19 Dec 01 | South Asia
UN bogged down over Afghan peacekeepers
27 Dec 01 | South Asia
Q&A: Afghan peacekeeping force
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