Sunday, December 06, 2009

Can the Afghan National Army Deliver?

President Obama's hope of withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan within 18 months rests upon one key development: the effective training and deployment of the Afghan National Army.

The following video from Guardian Films highlights some of the challenges of this strategy.

Meanwhile, New York-based journalist Tony Karon reports on a number of issues involved in this growing policy of Afghanistination that risk being ignored in the current climate:

  • 1 in 4 members of the ANA have left the force in the last year
  • only 39,000 troops are considered combat ready
  • even fewer have the skill and training necessary to fight the Taliban
  • recruits complete a 10-week basic training programme and receive a Kalashnikov at the end. Many desert at this point.
  • There is widespread evidence of ex-recruits returning for basic training under a false name - and receiving the $30 paid to such recruits
Ann Jones comments on this phenomenon:

"Some of these circulating soldiers are aging former mujaheddin -- the Islamist fundamentalists the U.S. once paid to fight the Soviets -- and many are undoubtedly Taliban."

"In a country where 40% of men are unemployed, joining the ANA for 10 weeks is the best game in town. It relieves the poverty of many families every time the man of the family goes back to basic training, but it's a needlessly complicated way to unintentionally deliver such minimal humanitarian aid."

  • Incidences of drug taking in the national police and army are common. British officers in Helmand province, for instance, have said they estimate up to 60% of the police force are drug users.
  • incidences of sexual abuse of children by ANA members have, according to some reports, been ignored by NATO military officials. "Some military officers have argued that since it is practised by some Afghans, particularly in Kandahar, then the Canadian Forces should not get involved in what should be seen as a “cultural” issue."

Tony Koran concludes:

"The idea that there are 240,000 Afghans out there with the hearts and souls of Prussian military cadets, who simply need US training in order to turn into the politically neutral professional military who will put their lives on the line for the Karzai state and its infidel patrons is, to put it mildly, somewhat fanciful."

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