The Afghan Army increased by 6,000 soldiers between May and June to a current total force of 129,885 soldiers, according to a senior military official.

Nato Training Mission Afghanistan army deputy commander Brigadier General Gary S Patton said the numbers were ahead of schedule.

In an effort to deploy non-commissioned officers (NCO), the army sends its 150 best soldiers from each infantry class to a four-week course after basic training and then a 12-week direct-entry E-6 course.

Around 3,300 Afghan soldiers will complete their graduation and become NCOs and the iteration repeats as each group graduates, the commander said.

Patton anticipates that the Afghan army will operate a definite number of NCOs by the end of 2011.