Gen. David Petraeus congratulated the Afghan Ministry of Defense on Wednesday for reaching its goal of having 134,000 trained national army soldiers - two months ahead of schedule.
Petraeus, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said the growth of the national army is encouraging as Afghan troops work together with coalition forces to "achieve our common goals in the new Afghanistan."
Petraeus said the Afghan army had about 107,000 soldiers less than six months ago.
"Increasing the size and capability of the Afghan security forces is a central element of the joint Afghan-ISAF strategy to increase security for the Afghan people in areas challenged by the insurgency," Petraeus said.
"Such security provides the foundation on which local governance can be developed, basic services for the people can be improved, and a brighter future for the next generation of Afghan citizens can be built."
Petraeus formally assumed command of the NATO-led international alliance in July.
He has said he supports President Barack Obama's plan to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 - but says it ought to be based on "conditions on the ground."