Afghanistan's drug trade is playing a growing role in sustaining fighting across the nation's south, an Afghan National Army (ANA) general says.
Major General Abdul Hamid, commander of the ANA 205 Corps, comprising almost 20,000 soldiers, said the worst of the fighting in southern Afghanistan occurred in the areas associated with the drug trade.
That includes areas used for growing of opium poppies and the drug smuggling routes.
Afghanistan is now the world's largest producer of heroin.
General Hamid said the big dealers were in Pakistan with some operating nominally Taliban insurgent groups but which were wholly involved in the drug trade.
General Hamid said the drug traffickers provided funding to the insurgents.
"There is no Taliban. There is no religion fighting. This is all smuggler fighting," he told AAP.
"They use some religious words to keep them to continue fighting. There is only smuggling fighting."
"These are very poor people who fight for Islam. In fact they fight for the drug dealers."
Currently, General Hamid and his headquarters staff, based at Camp Hero outside Kandahar, are mentored by a 67-member Australian team.
That mission has run for more than four years and will continue well into next year after all troops have withdrawn from neighbouring Oruzgan Province.
The major event for next year will be the presidential election set for April 5.
General Hamid said much planning was under way to prepare the necessary security against expected insurgent attacks.
He said the insurgents were now only able to mount suicide attacks and set improvised explosive devices.
"They only disturb us. This year they were not able to capture one area. They always were defeated by my units because every day we are getting better and better and stronger and stronger," he said.
General Hamid said the ANA had been established in fighting and grew in fighting.
"We have been trained by very good people, a good army like the Australian army, the American Army, the British army. In another 10 years we will have a very strong army," he said.