KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanis-tan said on Thursday it would seek control of billions of dollars of Western money going to the Afghan army and needed helicopters, planes and heavy guns to take charge of security from foreign troops. The demands came in a statement from the office of President Hamid Karzai, which also threatened new measures against some private security firms operating in Afghanistan. With 150,000 troops locked in an unpopular and escalating war, the US and its NATO-led allies aim to gradually withdraw their own troops and transfer responsibility for security to Afghan forces by 2014, starting this year. Critics have questioned the timetable and the ability of Afghan forces to take the lead, given a growing insurgency that is killing more troops and civilians than at any time since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Karzai instructed senior security officials to start immediate discussions with the US military to accelerate the transition, the statement said. It called for the West to fund the army directly through the Afghan Defence Ministry, giving it control of procurement of supplies, equipment and munitions. The army also needs air assets, ground vehicles and heavy machineguns, and the international community should commit to fund and equip the expanding Afghan army in the long-term, it said, without giving further details of the equipment wish-list. These necessities of the Afghan army must be addressed as soon as possible, the statement said. The US embassy and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force were not immediately available for comment. Afghan officials have long complained that donors undermine the central governments authority and capacity by funding programmes that run parallel to Afghan schools, clinics and other facilities, or dictating how funds given to ministries are spent. Diplomats say concerns about corruption and strict accountability rules from their own governments often make separate programmes more effective and better value for money. The United States has spent over $29 billion on training and equipping Afghan security forces, which currently number around 266,000. With a gross domestic product of around $12 billion, Afghanistan is unlikely to be able to pay for more than a fraction of the cost of its own security forces - estimated at several billion dollars a year - for years to come. The statement from Karzais office followed a combative speech at the opening of parliament on Wednesday, condemning foreign interference in Afghan elections. Ties between the president and the West have worsened since his re-election in 2009 in a poll marred by mass vote-rigging. Relations have been further strained by a bid by Karzai to put pressure on private security firms operating in Afghanistan. Thursdays statement said 16 firms protecting diplomatic residences and personnel, and international organisations, had seriously violated the law by using unregistered armoured vehicles and hiring foreigners without consulting the government. Such firms faced fines, it said, while serious action should be taken against seven security firms owned by high level Afghan officials. The statement did not identify the companies, or specify what serious action meant. Karzai issued a decree in August last year banning all private security contractors in Afghanistan, with the exception of those guarding embassies, military installations and diplomatic residences and personnel. The government has since said such firms can serve out their existing contracts. It says a new independent public security force will start securing development projects as private firms are shut down, triggering concern over the safety of foreign aid initiatives.