By Dialogo October 01, 2010 Just six months after activating the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, a deputy commander announced that changes to the training program have produced marked improvements in the quality of troops entering the Afghan National Army. During the June 2010 U.S. Department of Defense Live Bloggers Roundtable, Army Brig. Gen. Gary Patton of the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan discussed the results of the first 180-day assessment. Patton, who is also Deputy Commander for the Army Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan, highlighted remaining challenges, along with some significant achievements. “We now see an Army that is meeting its growth objectives and lowering its attrition rate,” Patton said. He said aggressive training plans are in place for 2011 to develop leaders, including up to 4,500 officers and 15,000 noncommissioned officers. For instance, he said, the NATO Training Mission is taking the top 150 recruits from every basic warrior training class and sending them directly into the noncommissioned officer training course. Patton also pledged that 2011 will be “the year of the enabler.” He said training programs will turn out specialists in military intelligence, military police, route clearance and engineering. All of these specialties will be critical to building a self-sustaining military.