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10 Jun 05,, 03:22
Desertions blow hits Afghan army
BY Roland Buerk
BBC News, Kabul

Hundreds of soldiers have deserted the Afghan National Army complaining of poor conditions and fierce resistance from the Taleban, US officials say.

It is a blow to the Afghan government which wants to increase the size of the force so the numbers of international troops in the country can be reduced.

The corps affected is the first to be deployed in the field.

Officials say another reason for men going absent is the difficulty they experience in dealing with their pay.

This is exactly what happened during the initial Russian invasion. It happened again with during the occupation. Al-Qaeda's 55th Brigade was originally an Afghan Army organization. History seems to be repeating itself in, "The Graveyard of Imperialism."
The 205th Corps of the Afghan National Army is based around the city of Kandahar.

The south of Afghanistan has seen some of the fiercest fighting against remnants of the Taleban and their al-Qaeda allies.

Members of the corps are in combat most days.

A US military spokesman told the BBC that around 300 men have deserted.

That is one in 12 of the entire force.

Soldiers are paid around $75 a month - a good wage in Afghanistan - but the absence of a banking system prevents them from sending money to their families.

The news comes as American troops take more casualties.

On Wednesday two US soldiers were killed and eight others wounded in a rocket attack near the border with Pakistan.

The Afghan government's long term plan is for the numbers of international troops in the country to be reduced and for Afghanistan's own army to shoulder more of the burden of the fighting.

To do that numbers will need to be nearly tripled to around 70,000 by 2007.

Story from BBC NEWS:

10 Jun 05,, 03:28
I'll keep you "neocons" up to speed and give some pics as well...

10 Jun 05,, 03:32
Yes the ANA now has M-113s... as well as the normal rank of BMPs, BTRs and T-55/T-62s...

10 Jun 05,, 03:37
Desertions blow hits Afghan army
BY Roland Buerk
BBC News, Kabul

Hundreds of soldiers have deserted the Afghan National Army complaining of poor conditions and fierce resistance from the Taleban, US officials say.

It is a blow to the Afghan government which wants to increase the size of the force so the numbers of international troops in the country can be reduced.

The corps affected is the first to be deployed in the field.

Officials say another reason for men going absent is the difficulty they experience in dealing with their pay.

This is exactly what happened during the initial Russian invasion. It happened again with during the occupation. Al-Qaeda's 55th Brigade was originally an Afghan Army organization. History seems to be repeating itself in, "The Graveyard of Imperialism."
The 205th Corps of the Afghan National Army is based around the city of Kandahar.

The south of Afghanistan has seen some of the fiercest fighting against remnants of the Taleban and their al-Qaeda allies.

Members of the corps are in combat most days.

A US military spokesman told the BBC that around 300 men have deserted.

That is one in 12 of the entire force.

Soldiers are paid around $75 a month - a good wage in Afghanistan - but the absence of a banking system prevents them from sending money to their families.

The news comes as American troops take more casualties.

On Wednesday two US soldiers were killed and eight others wounded in a rocket attack near the border with Pakistan.

The Afghan government's long term plan is for the numbers of international troops in the country to be reduced and for Afghanistan's own army to shoulder more of the burden of the fighting.

To do that numbers will need to be nearly tripled to around 70,000 by 2007.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Chicken Little, the sky is falling!!!!

10 Jun 05,, 03:37
Afghan Army Gets Armored Personnel Carriers
South Carolina National Guard troops are tasked to
train Afghan soldiers to operate and maintain the new vehicles.

By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mack Davis
Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan Public Affairs
KABUL, Afghanistan, April 28, 2005 — The Afghan National Army is getting a new look over the next few months. As a result of a recent equipment donation, they will appear a little less Soviet and a little more like their Coalition partners.

The Afghan National Army recently took delivery of 10 M113A2 armored personnel carriers from the United States at Camp Pol-e-Charkhi, on the outskirts of Kabul. This was the first shipment of vehicles with more to follow.

Lt. Col. David Braxton, logistics operations chief at the Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan, said, “Based on the force structure designed for Afghanistan’s internal threat, armored personnel carriers were identified as a requirement for the Afghanistan National Army.

The U.S. M113A2s are an excess defense article, which allows them to be donated. Given the performance and popularity of the M113s around the world, it is an excellent match for the (Afghan National Army’s) (armored personnel carrier) requirement.”

“The (Afghan National Army) soldiers in the mechanized 2nd Kandak that we have been working with are just ingenious; they have the ability to take any mission and figure out a way to accomplish it. They have done phenomenal things with minimum resources,” U.S. Army Maj. Greg Cornell

The M113s already have a home. They will become part of the 2nd Kandak (Battalion) Mechanized Infantry, in the 201st Corps’ 3rd Brigade, located in Kabul.

The 218th Infantry Regiment of the South Carolina Army National Guard, part of Task Force Phoenix, has been tasked with training the Afghan National Army to operate and maintain the new vehicles.

According to 1st Sgt. Bobby Duggins, one of the kandak’s embedded training team advisors, “The (Afghan National Army) soldiers are totally excited about receiving this vehicle. The M113 is a new vehicle for them and there is always a level of excitement when you introduce something new.”

“Because this (armored personnel carrier) is so versatile, it can be used in many ways,” added Duggins. While the Afghan National Army will use the armored personnel carriers primarily to transport troops, Duggins added that the M113 “can also be used as a squad heavy weapon (to fire mortars), and it can be used by medical units and maintenance teams going into the battlefield.”

In addition to the 10 M113s that arrived recently, Braxton said, “We expect 45 M113s and 16 M577s (command vehicles) to begin arriving the second week in May. The remaining vehicles will be in country throughout the next month for a total of 63 M113s and 16 M577s.”

Because the 2nd Kandak Mechanized team was previously fielded with another armored personnel carrier, the Soviet BMP1, training on the M113 was a smooth transition.

Prior to the arrival of the U.S. M113s, the kandak soldiers were trained by the International Security Assistance Force’s Norwegian Battle Group using five modified M113s they deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year. According to Lt. Col. Jon Mangersnes, Norwegian Battle Group commander, “We conducted two weeks of practical training. This type of training cannot be conducted in a class room; you have to get hands on the vehicle.”

The training covered the basic operation and maintenance of the M113, including how to start, steer and maneuver, and how to manipulate the operator switches. “It was a lot of fun for my guys,” added Mangersnes. “The Afghan soldiers were very receptive to the training and the younger soldiers are extremely proud to be in the Afghan Army.”

This is not the first time the Norwegians have worked with the Afghan National Army. The battle group provides security in the Kabul area and often trains and works with the Afghan National Army.

Future training on the M113s will be provided to new soldiers during basic training at the Kabul Military Training Center by U.S. and Coalition mobile training teams.

The total donation, including repair parts, is estimated to be worth $10 million.

The U.S. is the only country providing the M113s, ensuring that all the M113 variants are the same so they will be less expensive to maintain.

“To sustain the M113s here in country, the Afghan National Army’s 3rd Brigade is receiving a one-year stock level of repair parts,” said New Hampshire Army National Guardsman Chief Warrant Officer Gill Colon, the Task Force Phoenix logistics officer and embedded training team advisor to the 3rd Brigade.

In order to support the M113s in Pol-e-Charkhi, several changes had to be made. “We have converted our warehouse to accommodate the (armored personnel carrier) spare parts and have converted some of the Quonset huts into maintenance bays,” said Colon.

The maintenance for the M113 fleet will be conducted by Afghan National Army mechanics who will be trained by U.S. mobile training teams.

An Afghan National Army soldier looks out from the driver’s hatch of a recently donated M113A2 armored personnel carrier. Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mack Davis

The South Carolina Army National Guardsmen who normally train the 2nd Kandak will be leaving Afghanistan in a few months.

According to the unit’s executive officer, Maj. Greg Cornell, “We want to get the (Afghan National Army) mechanized team at least to team-level proficiency on the M113 before we leave. A special range is being prepared so that we can work on maneuvers and team-level live-fire exercises.”

Cornell added, “The range training will teach the (Afghan National Army) soldiers to take two vehicles, placing one in an overwatch (security) position, and the other in a position so that the dismounts can flank the enemy and engage. We also want the (Afghan National Army) to be able to move and provide weapons fire.”

Cornell said, “The (Afghan National Army) soldiers in the mechanized 2nd Kandak that we have been working with are just ingenious; they have the ability to take any mission and figure out a way to accomplish it. They have done phenomenal things with minimum resources. As we (coalition partners) are able to provide more resources and support, there won’t be much they will not be able to accomplish.”

The Afghan people will get their first look at their army’s newly painted M113s at the Afghan National Day Parade, scheduled for April 28 in Kabul.

10 Jun 05,, 03:43
Yes Afghan soldiers deserting is not a new thing...

Afghan National Army

President Karzai reviews the first soldiers of the Afghan National Army.The Afghan National Army (ANA) is being developed by the United States, France and United Kingdom to take primary responsibility for land-based military operations. The United States has provided uniforms and other basic equipment, while weapons have come from former Soviet bloc countries. To thwart and dissolve localized militias, the Afghan government offers cash and vocational training for members to disarm.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai set a goal of an army of 70,000 men by 2009. By January, 2003 just over 1,700 men in five battalions had completed the 10-week training course, and by June 2003 a total of 4,000 forces had been trained. Initial recruiting problems lay in the lack of cooperation from regional warlords and of committed international support. However, the CIA continues to fund some warlord militias as part of the War on Terrorism. Another problem has been soldiers abandoning their posts after their initial training. A mid-March, 2004 estimate suggested that 3,000 soldiers had done so. In the summer of 2003, the desertion rate was ten percent.

Different members of the U.S.-led coalition have different responsibilities through the process of training the ANA. The U.S. is training the army. Germany is training the police force. Italy is responsible for legal reforms. Japan is responsible for disarming the warlord militias. The U.K. is leading the anti-narcotics effort.

In attempts to create an army that is ethnically balanced, regional commanders were asked to contribute recruits. However, Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ismail Khan were unwilling to make such concessions. In spite of promises for decent salaries, soldiers in the new Army initially received only $30 a month during training and $50 after graduation, although pay for trained soldiers rose to $70. Some of the recruits were under 18 years of age and most could not read or write. Recruits who spoke only Pashto had difficulties because instructions were given through interpreters who spoke Dari (the national language).

Growth continued, however, and the ANA expanded to 5,000 trained soldiers that July. On July 23, about 1,000 ANA soldiers, together with U.S.-led coalition troops, were deployed in Operation Warrior Sweep, marking the first major combat operation for the Afghan troops.

On September 29, 2003, a new battalion (the 11th) was ready, boosting the force to about 6,000. The 11th battalion was a combat support battalion for the army's 3rd Brigade, and was capable of providing engineering, medical and scout skills.

By February 2004, the U.S. government had spent $US500 million on ANA and police force training. The ANA troop count reached 7,000.

On April 30, 2004, Army reached 8,300 soldiers, with another 2,500 in training.

On January 10, 2005, an American general announced that the ANA comprised of 17,800 soldiers with another 3,400 in training.

By March, 2005, the Afghan National Army had reached a strength of 20,694 soldiers in 31 battalions. The problems of desertion and difficult recruitment that had earlier dogged the ANA had been largely overcome, and there roughly 4,000 soldiers in training.

21 Aug 05,, 08:17
Afghan Army's strength risen to over 31,000

The strength of the under training Afghan National Army (ANA) has risen to 31,000-strong force, Defense Ministry spokesman said Sunday.

"The building of our armed forces is going on smoothly and so far its strength has risen to over 31,000 troops," Zahir Azimi told newsmen at a press briefing here.

The process of recruiting was going on as per plan as 6,000 more persons are waiting to join the army, he added.

Under the historic Bonn agreement signed in Germany in late 2001, the post-Taliban Afghanistan would have 70,000-strong new brand army by the end of 2007.

However, the newly established army would not include the air force, as the post-war country under the agreement would not have the airpower in near future.

The United States, Britain and France are the lead nations in assisting the post-war nation to build its national army.

Seven battalions of the fledgling troops of the ANA, according to Azimi have been assisting the US-led collation forces in war against Taliban and associated groups in Afghanistan.

Five more battalions of the ANA would be deployed in all the country's 34 provinces ahead of the September 18 elections to ensure security on the voting day.

The spokesman also added that hundreds of students are under training in military training centers to boost the ANA after graduation.

Source: Xinhua

21 Aug 05,, 08:19
Afghan army 'kills 21 militants'
The Afghan army has killed 21 suspected Taleban militants in two operations in Zabul and Uruzgan provinces, the defence ministry in Kabul says.

Defence Ministry spokesman Gen Azimi said 16 fighters were killed on Sunday in Zabul, including a key Taleban figure, Mullah Nasrullah.

Five more were killed in the Dhirawood district in Uruzgan, he said.

Afghanistan has recently seen a rise in violence, amid preparations for September's parliamentary elections.

Paktia arrests

Gen Azimi told the BBC the Zabul operation was in the Khajab Agh Razi.

One suspected Taleban fighter was also captured and weapons seized, he said.

Gen Azimi said five more Taleban insurgents were arrested in a third operation, in the south-eastern province of Paktia.

There have been no reports of any casualties among the Afghan forces and the Taleban have not commented on the defence ministry's claims.

However, a Taleban spokesman said it had kidnapped a Lebanese engineer working for an international construction company in Zabul province.

Officials in the province confirmed the kidnapping on Sunday night near the provincial capital, Qalat.

Meanwhile, the US military has said operations are continuing in the Korengal Valley in eastern Kunar province, where militants are believed to have shot down a special forces helicopter in June.

US military spokesman Col James Yonts said the forces were making progress in the operation to flush out rebel fighters, but predicted it may take a long time.

"That area, as we all know, has historically been a safe haven for enemy forces. It is no secret that they still remain there."

Three Navy SEALs died in an ambush in Kunar in June and 16 troops on the Chinook helicopter sent to rescue them were killed when it was shot down.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/08/15 15:49:56 GMT


21 Aug 05,, 08:20
Afghan army troops complain of low wages, equipment shortage

Monday August 15, 2005 (1506 PST)

KABUL: Afghan army officials based in the nsurgency-plagued Zabul province have complained to top US commander Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry they lack equipment and support for operations against militants.

They said the Afghan troops had to fight 500 Taliban fighters and up to 150 al-Qaeda militants in the troubled region, which has seen a surge in bloody attacks in recent months.

As the US commander Saturday visited the area, the head of the Second Brigade of Army Corps No 205 in Kandahar, Major Habibullah asserted they were still in control of the entire province despite the increasing insurgency. However, he added, they needed greater support.

His subordinate, Colonel Hassan Gul - garrison commander of the brigade - said: "Our brigade is directly engaged in fighting against the enemy, but has inadequate heavy arms. Our soldiers are not well-equipped in terms of latest military gizmos like weapons and vehicles."

He went on to demand a pay raise for the soldiers involved in anti-insurgency operations, saying two dollars a day were far from adequate. He suggested the brigade force should be changed every six months to give the troops a breathing space and some respite from hectic duties.

For his part, the American general hailed the progress in raising and training the Afghan army and other positive developments over the last three years. However, he called on the troops to make do with the available resources as the ANA creation and recruitment process was still on.

"We have decided to speed up the raising of the Afghan National Army, therefore, there would be logistical problems like shortage of weapons," Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry observed, adding time was needed to tackle these problems.

Zaher Azemi, spokesman for the defence ministry in Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the newly-formed units were usually caught in logistical and equipment problems.

17 Nov 07,, 06:17
move the thread please...

Afghani commandos from the new commando battalion

17 Nov 07,, 06:20

17 Nov 07,, 22:45
move this thread to the OEF section please....

18 Nov 07,, 10:01
Some of the earlier pictures look like a colored mess. Could you fix the links pleasE?

18 Nov 07,, 10:16
Some of the earlier pictures look like a colored mess. Could you fix the links pleasE?

He can't. I don't think anyone can.

The server housing the data for this entire site crashed. Posts were recovered but not pictures.

18 Nov 07,, 15:24
Is there some reason for this thread here instead of OEF?

19 Nov 07,, 04:01
US to speed up Afghan weapons supplies: minister
Updated at 1830 PST
KABUL: The United States will speed up the supply of 50,000 assault rifles to the Afghan army, boosting its ability to take on the Taliban, Afghanistan's defence minister said Saturday,

Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters that he convinced US officials during a recent visit to accelerate supplies after delays caused by demand for guns in Iraq.

The new weapons will phase out old Russian and Chinese-made arms.

"This issue was very sensitive to us. There are lots of complaints about weapons in the army. The weapons in hand are very old, some 30 years," Wardak added.

The first batch -- some 5,000 assault rifles -- is scheduled to arrive in January and a further 10,000 each month until the target of 50,000 is met.

"I think when the snows have melted and the fighting season arrives, a vast majority of the Afghan army will be armed with M-16s instead of AK-47s," he said.

Wardak said US authorities had also pledged thousands of armoured vehicles. Meanwhile, more than two dozen military aircraft, most of them Russian-made helicopters donated by the United Arab Emirates, were due to start arriving in batches of around three from next month, he said.

Building up the air force is the "only factor which has prevented us from independent operations," Wardak said.

Development of Afghanistan's security forces is part of an international commitment to the war-torn country made after a US-led invasion drove out the 1996-2001 Taliban regime, which had sheltered Al-Qaeda.

The army numbers about 50,000 soldiers and is scheduled to reach 64,000, with an additional 4,000-strong air force, by the end of next year. However, Wardak has said the forces would need to be significantly larger to secure Afghanistan, where the Taliban insurgency is gaining pace.

Afghanistan's international allies, which have about 55,000 soldiers in the country, are also keen for the Afghan forces to become established since this would allow them to withdraw from intense and costly battles.
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25 Nov 07,, 08:44
Afghan security forces recapture district

24 November 2007

HERAT, Afghanistan - Afghan forces and foreign troops recaptured a district Saturday that had been taken by Taleban militants twice in the past month, officials said, accusing police of abandoning the area in fear.

Afghan police and army teamed up with soldiers from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to take back remote Gulistan district in the western province of Farah around noon, provincial governor Mohaiyudin Baluch told AFP.

‘There was no fighting. The Taleban did not resist and left the area,’ he said.

The rebels first took Gulistan on October 29, killing seven civilians and a policeman. Afghan and ISAF forces drove them out 10 days later.

The insurgents however moved back in Friday with no resistance.

A defence ministry official said that authorities had left 250 police in the district after reclaiming it earlier this month.

However the official, speaking under cover of anonymity, said that ‘as soon as the ISAF contingent and ANA (Afghan National Army) forces left the area, the police force also left the district in fear.

‘The Taleban came and claimed control.’

The extremist Taleban movement were in government between 1996 and 2001 and are trying to take back power.

They claim to ‘capture’ remote districts from time to time but are easily ejected by Afghan forces backed by the superior ISAF, which has about 40,000 soldiers in this country.

Musa Qala, a district in Helmand province that neighbours Farah, has however been in rebel hands for months.

A report released Wednesday by a European think-thank, The Senlis Council, claimed that insurgents controlled vast areas of Afghanistan.

This was dismissed as baseless by the chief ISAF spokesman, Brigadier General Carlos Branco.

‘They control not more than a handful of districts, even less,’ he told AFP Friday, adding these were ‘very small pockets without territorial continuity.’

The police are regarded as the weakest of the security forces in Afghanistan but are in some of the most vulnerable areas. They are also the most often attacked, with about 700 killed this year.

25 Nov 07,, 08:44
British soldiers coach Afghan police on the frontline

2 days ago

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (AFP) — British soldiers prod tiny packets of white powder lying in the dirt of an outbuilding at a small police station on the barren outskirts of Afghanistan's southern town of Lashkar Gah.

Outside they find discarded syringes, vials, packets of pills and a small tin containing green-brown powder.

The visitors have reason to be suspicious: this is Helmand, which as a province produces the most opium in the world, second only to the entire nation of Afghanistan.

It is an unpromising start to the surprise British visit.

Summoned, the commander of the mudbrick police post says the white powder is something he and his men drink to settle their stomachs. The initially suspicious brown powder turns out to be snuff.

The other items are medicines, including aid for bullet wounds from a Taliban attack a few days back, says commander Agha Wali, whose arm is in a sling.

Lashkar Gah is the capital of the province that has seen some of the worst fighting between the Taliban and the international coalition opposing them.

The Britons -- from a police mentoring task team -- don't make too much of the powders and bottles but slip them into plastic bags for later inspection.

They also quiz the commander about a messy pile of new uniforms on the dirt floor of the same outhouse.

"If we had a room, we would hang them up," Wali -- who is not in uniform, although his men are -- nonchalantly offers as an excuse, music blaring from the tape deck of his solitary police vehicle near his rough and ready bunch.

The British team, one of two operating in Helmand, needs to find out what the police have, what they need, how capable they are -- and then assess how to help.

"This is only the second time I have seen evidence of drugs," says Major Erik Bengtsson, who has visited two dozen police stations. "They tried to tell us it that it was medicine but I don't believe it for one minute."

The British aim here is to coach the Afghans in survival and basic law enforcement tactics.

"We teach them to stay alive," Bengtsson says at a base of the 37-nation International Security Assistance Force.

"The police are dying at a much higher rate than ANA (Afghan National Army) and ISAF. Sometimes it is because suicide bombers are walking right up to them," he says.

"We teach them how to search people and vehicles, how to spot an IED (improvised explosive device)."

The mentoring also covers more mundane tasks such as how to write a patrol report, preserve evidence and run a police station.

In Afghanistan the police are more fighting soldiers than British bobbies. Around 700 have been killed this year in attacks, the highest toll among the various security forces.

There is new emphasis on building up the police and army which were in a shambles at the end of the Taliban regime in late 2001 and are still understrength and underequipped.

Afghanistan's allies have stepped up sporadic efforts to help: Britain will install more mentoring teams in Helmand; elsewhere police training is being carried out by the European Union and US security group DynCorp.

The Afghan National Police is seen as the least professional of the security forces, accused of setting up checkpoints to extract "baksheesh" or bribes, transporting opium and tipping off the Taliban, among other offences.

"The corruption needs to be stamped out, the drug abuse needs to be stamped out, all the nefarious activities. But there are some good eggs out there," Bengtsson says.

"There is no reason they cannot be dragged up by the bootstraps."

Meanwhile, about 50 kilometres (35 miles) south, in the town of Garmser, five neatly uniformed policemen are at the first session of training by British soldiers, separate from the work of the mentoring team.

A young captain, who has just returned to a heavily barricaded post after an encounter the Taliban, gets the men to strip their rifles and practise their shooting stances.

He needs to assess their professionalism as -- with no Afghan army in town -- the police will have to take part in operations side-by-side with foreign soldiers.

The training will be a "safety net for us so we know their skills and drills are at a level where we would have confidence in them when we go out on patrol with them," says Major Rupert Lewis, another trainer.

Policeman Mohammad Zaman, whose post is inside the fort, recalls when Taliban -- several hundred of them, he says -- overran Garmser town 18 months ago.

"They came from about four or five directions. We resisted them for one and a half days and then we withdrew," he says.

"We had no ammunition, no reinforcement," he says, adding that 16 of his colleagues were killed.

ISAF forces -- then not based in the town -- arrived about four days later and pushed out the attackers from the northern part of Garmser. But his family plot is in the southern part, which is still in Taliban hands.

"I am looking every day for a chance to go back to my farm. I am here to smash the enemy," he says, when asked why he is a policeman.
AFP: British soldiers coach Afghan police on the frontline (http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5i0sEn_MOqvmUbv0dz8h-ocWLsD5A)

26 Nov 07,, 07:09
NATO and Afghan forces kill 65 Taliban - ministry
Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:10am EST
KHOST, Afghanistan, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Afghan and NATO-led forces killed 65 Taliban rebels when they called in air strikes as the insurgents smuggling weapons across the border from Pakistan, the Afghan Interior Ministry said on Sunday.

Afghanistan has seen a steady escalation of violence this year with up to 30 percent more clashes with hardline Islamist Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the pro-Western Afghan government and eject 50,000 foreign troops from the country.

Afghan and Western military officials say the Taliban arm and train in Pakistan's restive border region, largely outside the control of the Pakistani government.

The Paktia provincial governor's office said 72 insurgents were killed in Saturday's air strike near the Pakistani border, but a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that number was "way too high".

It is not ISAF's policy to release Taliban casualty figures.

The group was smuggling weapons on horses and in two saloon cars when Afghan and foreign forces engaged them and called in air support, the Interior Ministry said.

Elsewhere in Paktia province, Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces killed four insurgents and detained seven others, the Afghan Defence Ministry said in a statement.

And near the provincial capital Gardez, ISAF troops called in an air strike to kill three insurgents after they were spotted planting a roadside bomb, ISAF and the Interior Ministry said.

While Afghan and foreign forces have killed large numbers of insurgents in clashes this year, there has been no let up in Taliban attacks and the rebels have extended their attacks to parts of the country previously considered safe.

NATO commanders admit the conflict cannot be won simply by killing insurgents.

Instead, they say, more Afghan soldiers and police need to be trained to bring security in order for development to be speeded up and undercut Taliban support. (Reporting by Elyas Wahdat; Writing by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Jerry Norton)

26 Nov 07,, 07:12
Gen.: Training is key to war in Afghanistan
Alliance’s top commander asks NATO nations to deploy more teams
By Charlie Coon, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, November 26, 2007

KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO’s leaders have for years asked member nations to ante up more troops, aircraft and other military assets for its war in Afghanistan.

But six years into the war against the Taliban and other insurgents, what are most needed now are trainers, according to the alliance’s top military commander.

There is no shortage of Afghans asking to become soldiers and police officers, said Gen. Bantz J. Craddock. But there is a lack of training teams to embed with raw Afghan recruits and help turn them into stand-alone forces.

“We (NATO force) are short maneuver battalions, we’re short intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, we’re short enablers, helicopters, lift,” Craddock said.

“But the best investment we can make right now is to train the Afghan national security forces to get a face out and to take over their own security requirements.”

Craddock and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Sheffer and their entourages visited Afghanistan Wednesday through Friday.

There are about 47,000 foreign forces deployed to Afghanistan, including approximately 22,000 U.S. troops.

The Afghan National Army currently numbers about 41,000 troops, with a goal of 78,000, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bartelle, the senior noncommissioned officer for NATO’s Command Allied Operations.

Those forces, he said, vary in ability from raw to ready.

Training of the Afghan police forces, which would handle local law enforcement, is going more slowly, Bartelle said. Training both the army and police, he said, takes a special talent.

“It’s an acquired skill,” Bartelle said. “And not necessarily based on an individual’s proficiency in their (military specialty).

“It takes an ability to relay information clearly and concisely, so that the individual receiving it translates it into action.”

A training team can consist of 10 to 20 people, sometimes more, and its makeup is the same as a military unit: one commander, several junior officers, and a variety of senior and junior sergeants and other enlisted troops.

The trainers pair off with their Afghan counterparts and train them in tasks ranging from commanding a military unit to firing a rifle straight.

Good training teams are not readily available, Craddock said, even from the U.S. military, and especially not from units based in Europe. Trainer-candidates would typically be removed from their units and assembled into a team, then deployed to Afghanistan.

“Those type of leaders by and large are not available in U.S. forces in Europe, because U.S. forces in Europe are either deployed, preparing to deploy, or are returning from deployment and in their dwell (non-deployable) time,” Craddock said.

Craddock proposed a simple-sounding solution to lessen the shortage of trainers.

“We need 26 more teams between now and this time next year, and there are 26 (NATO) nations,” Craddock said. “If each nation would give one more … then we would have filled up the need and we would, I think, be able to generate greater Afghan (security) participation.”

26 Nov 07,, 07:14
Commandos Start Operation Commando Fury with Air Raid
By Jane Patrick
As reported by the Combined Joint Task Force, an air raid was run by Afghan 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak on an area where it was known that a Taliban organizer lived. The raid began at dawn and was the first mission of an operation named Commando Fury. The raid was located in Tag Ab Valley in Kapisa Province.

The Commandos were given information that mentioned that the Taliban leader was located at a certain compound and moved to attack the location with the help of five Coalition helicopters. The helicopters landed at the compound and the Taliban ran in all directions to avoid the coming fight. They were not prepared.

Over 30 Commandos jumped out of the helicopters and were within the structures within moments.

"The valley has long been plagued with insurgent activity, people living in fear of violence at the hands of Taliban extremists," said Army Major Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Forces-82 spokesman. "The Afghan Commandos sent a message that there will be no refuge for extremists in Kapisa."

Trying to get away, the Taliban ran, but were blocked off by more Commandos that arrived by vehicle to aide in the mission. Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police worked together to help the Commandos in breaking up the enemy in the Tag Ab Valley. More targets in the area were hit during the first missions of the operation and it seems to been a good start.

There were no celebrations after each mission, but a constant getting ready for what was next.

In other areas of Afghanistan, Coalition forces sought out weapons smugglers in areas around Zabul Province, and as a result, captured five individual thought to be working with the Taliban.

Multiple areas were searched by Coalition forces in the belief that Taliban weapons organizers were in the buildings running to smuggling operations. Five people were held for questioning during the mission, two were armed. It was thought that the detainees were connected to the smuggling of weapons.

The weapons that were found at the sites were destroyed to keep the Taliban from using it in the future, and there was no major damage done to any structures at the sites that were searched.

"Coalition forces are continuing to disrupt the Taliban's supply of weapons in Afghanistan," said Major Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman. "We are eroding the Taliban's resources and their ability to bring harm on the Afghan people."


November 24, 2007


Elite Afghan force continues to neutralize Taliban insurgents

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The Afghan 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, conducted an air-assault raid at dawn on the compound of a high-level Taliban facilitator, kicking off a four-day offensive operation named Commando Fury in the Tag Ab Valley, Kapisa Province, Nov. 10-14.

Upon receiving credible intelligence, the Commandos quickly mobilized and launched on a flight of five Coalition helicopters. As the sun broke over the Sur Ghar Mountains, the Taliban knew the unit was upon them. Within moments, dust swirled as the helicopters set down within feet of their target building. Taliban fled in every direction as the Commandos leapt from the aircraft. Through the tumult, emerged 30 plus Commandos. Seconds later, the assaulters breached the entrance and cleared the first of many enemy compounds.

“The valley has long been plagued with insurgent activity, people living in fear of violence at the hands of Taliban extremists,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Forces-82 spokesman. “The Afghan Commandos sent a message that there will be no refuge for extremists in Kapisa.”

The Taliban scurried to escape the pursuit, but a convoy of more than 30 Afghan Commando vehicles sped toward the objective to block the enemy retreat. A joint effort by the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army assisted the Commando battalion in disrupting the Taliban hold on the Tag Ab Valley as Commandos hit target after target. Taliban were met at every turn by the combined Afghan force.

“The 3rd Company reinforced the sterling reputation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s most elite fighting force. The fact is there will be no safe haven for Taliban or place where these elite warriors will not pursue the enemies of freedom and stability,” Belcher said. “The company took no time for celebration. They refitted and rearmed. They are always vigilant, always ready to respond, at a moments notice, to the call of freedom.”



071113-A-XXXXX-002 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak stormed the compound of a well-know Taliban leader in the Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 14. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

071113-A-XXXXX-003 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Battalion, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s elite fighting force, dismount a Coalition forces aircraft, as the sun broke over the Sur Ghar mountains, during the operation Commando Fury in Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 13. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

071113-A-XXXXX-004 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s elite fighting force unit, rapidly reposition and appear without warning during Operation Commando Fury in Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 13. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

071113-A-XXXXX-018 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's elite fighting force unit, conduct a cordon and search of a compound during operation Commando Fury in Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 13. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

071010-A-XXXXC-015 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's elite fighting force unit, rehearse insertion during pre-mission training near the capital city of Kabul, Oct. 10. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

071010-A-8378C-041 – A Commando from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's elite fighting force unit, fires from a rooftop position during pre-mission training near the capital city of Kabul, Oct. 10. U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

# # #

Contact Information – CJTF-82 Public Affairs Office Tel – 0093-799-063-013

DSN: 318-431-7852


18 Dec 07,, 19:45

24 Dec 07,, 05:58
Canadian military donates old C7 rifles to Afghan National Army
Published: Sunday, December 23, 2007 | 12:14 PM ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The Canadian military has agreed to donate 2,500 surplus C7 rifles to the Afghan National Army along with ammunition and training.

The decision, made quietly last week, is expected to bring the fledgling Afghan force in line with other NATO countries.

Building capacity among the ANA is the key to Canada's exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Last month a senior Afghan commander told The Canadian Press that better weaponry was crucial to the buildup of the ANA.

Lt.-Col. Shirin Shah Kowbandi said the army's old Soviet-era AK-47s frequently misfire.

At the time he said Canadians had promised to provide the ANA with "good weapons" but that they had not yet delivered.

27 Dec 07,, 00:18
Wednesday, 26 December 2007, 22:57 GMT
E-mail this to a friend Printable version
Can tribes take on the Taleban?
By Tom Coghlan
In Ahmadaba district, Paktia province

Guards keep watch for the Taleban (Photos: Jason Howe)

Enlarge Image

Drums hang in the remote villages of Paktia, deep in the tribal belt of eastern Afghanistan.

At times of danger, beating the drum brings hundreds of armed local men running from their homes - an instant army to protect the area.

It is the basis for a traditional system of village militias, known as the "arbakai", that operates in only a few provinces of the east.

With Afghanistan's fledgling national police deeply unpopular and insufficient in number to impose control in many areas of the country, Western diplomats and commanders have been exploring what they term "Afghan solutions" to counter rising Taleban violence.

Britain, in particular, is exploring the use of village defence forces in Helmand province.

The idea owes much to the controversial arming of Sunni tribal militias in al-Anbar province of Iraq by American forces, which has dramatically reduced the influence of al-Qaeda in that region.

If we find someone sheltering the Taleban, the tribe will burn his house
Haider Jan,
Village militiaman

Speaking to the British parliament on 12 December, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that Britain advocated a shift in strategy that would favour "hard-headed realism" and work "with the grain of Afghan tradition".

"One way forward is to increase our support for community defence initiatives, where local volunteers are recruited to defend homes and families modelled on traditional Afghan 'arbakai'," he said.

Ancient code

Harnessing informal militias is not a new idea in counter-insurgency. But it has a mixed history of success, not least in Afghanistan.


Alongside some successful examples - such as the British use of the Firqa irregulars in Oman in the 1970s or the US forces' use of Hmong tribal militias in Vietnam - are less encouraging precedents.

After the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, President Najibullah surprised the world by holding out for three years against the mujahideen guerrillas.

His use of local militias initially proved successful. However, though they were sometimes tough fighters, the brutality and indiscipline of such units helped to alienate public support for his regime and they could be unreliable, self-interested and prone to switching sides.

At sunset in a village in Ahmadaba district of Paktia, in the shadow of snow-capped mountains, a group of local men stand with Kalashnikovs and a wary eye for their surroundings.

They are the local arbakai from the Ahmadzai tribe, just 10 strong but with the power to raise a force of 250 in less than 20 minutes.

In three decades of war there is not any example of a militia having done anything for the benefit of Afghanistan
Mohammad Hussein Andiwal,
Helmand province police chief

"We just listen to our tribe, to our tribal elders," said Haider Jan, a wild-haired young man wearing scraps of Afghan police uniform who showed off an old Taleban bullet wound in his leg.

"We keep the Taleban out of this area. If we find someone sheltering the Taleban, the tribe will burn his house."

The system only operates in an area of eastern Afghanistan which is famous for the weakness of government influence and the strength of its tribal structures.

Officially, the arbakai of the area were incorporated into the Afghan National Auxiliary Police, a central government reserve police force formed last year. However, they regard themselves still as simply the "Ahmadzai arbakai".

In Paktia the tribes rule themselves, imposing their own legal system.

The arbakai are the police, tribal elders are the local rulers; the system as a whole is part of the ancient Afghan code of behaviour known as "Pashtunwali".

"Each sub-tribe takes its turn to be arbakai and they serve 10 days at a time," said Shaista Khan Mangal, a tribal elder in the provincial capital, Gardez.

"The arbakai only works in the area of its own tribe. The tribe will discipline them if they do anything wrong to the people.

"They recognise the local people. That is why they are better than the national police or the army."

'Back the police'

Western officials working in the region acknowledge that the arbakai system is often a substitute for central government control, and frequently preferable to corrupt centrally-appointed police.

Village militiaman (Photo: Jason Howe)
Tribes in Paktia have their own legal system

"There are strong tribal structures in Paktia and these usually stand in opposition to the Taleban," said one Western official.

The official emphasised that the arbakai worked only where tribal structures were strong and where tribes were not mixed together.

The potential dangers that come with arming unofficial militias are clear.

Tens of millions of pounds have so far been expended on trying to disarm illegal militias across Afghanistan under two separate UN-backed programmes and to impose central government control.

And in southern Helmand province, where a number of militias tied to local warlords already operate as adjuncts to the local security forces, they have been linked to drug crime, frequent looting and murder.

But so, too, have the official police.

"I am speaking for myself, not my government here - but as far as Afghanistan is concerned in three decades of war there is not any example of a militia having done anything for the benefit of Afghanistan," said Helmand Police Chief, Gen Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

"If you use the name of militia or of arbakai, people will be shocked. They had a very bad reputation and just look after the interests of their own tribe.

"The British have not contacted me on this issue, but I will always tell them to focus on the national police, not militias.

20 Feb 10,, 19:31
February 21, 2010
Marines Do Heavy Lifting as Afghan Army Lags in Battle

MARJA, Afghanistan — As American Marines and Afghan soldiers have fought their way into this Taliban stronghold, the performance of the Afghan troops has tested a core premise of the American military effort here: in the not-too-distant future, the security of this country can be turned over to indigenous forces created at the cost of American money and blood.

Scenes from this corner of the battlefield, observed over eight days by two New York Times journalists, suggest that the day when the Afghan Army will be well led and able to perform complex operations independently, rather than merely assist American missions, remains far off.

The effort to train the Afghan Army has long been troubled, with soldiers and officers repeatedly falling short. And yet after nearly a decade of American and European mentorship and many billions of dollars of American taxpayer investment, American and Afghan officials have portrayed the Afghan Army as the force out front in this important offensive against the Taliban.

Statements from Kabul have said the Afghan military is planning the missions and leading both the fight and the effort to engage with Afghan civilians caught between the Taliban and the newly arrived troops.

But that assertion conflicts with what is visible in the field. In every engagement between the Taliban and one front-line American Marine unit, the operation has been led in almost every significant sense by American officers and troops. They organized the forces for battle, transported them in American vehicles and helicopters from Western-run bases into Taliban-held ground, and have been the primary fighting force each day.

The Afghan National Army, or A.N.A., has participated. At the squad level it has been a source of effective, if modestly skilled, manpower. Its soldiers have shown courage and a willingness to fight.

Afghan soldiers have also proved, as they have for years, to be more proficient than Americans at searching Afghan homes and identifying potential Taliban members — two tasks difficult for outsiders to perform.

By all other important measures, though — from transporting troops, directing them in battle and coordinating fire support to arranging modern communications, logistics, aviation and medical support — the mission in Marja has been a Marine operation conducted in the presence of fledgling Afghan Army units, whose officers and soldiers follow behind the Americans and do what they are told.

That fact raises questions about President Obama’s declared goal of beginning to withdraw American forces in July 2011 and turning over security to the Afghan military and the even more troubled police forces.

There have been ample examples in the offensive of weak Afghan leadership and poor discipline to boot.

In northern Marja, a platoon of Afghan soldiers landed with a reinforced Marine rifle company, Company K, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, which was inserted by American helicopters.

The Marine officers and noncommissioned officers here quickly developed a mixed impression of the Afghan platoon, whose soldiers were distributed through their ranks.

After several days, no Marine officer had seen an Afghan use a map or plan a complicated patrol. In another indicator of marginal military readiness, the Afghan platoon had no weapons heavier than a machine gun or a rocket-propelled grenade.

Afghan officers organized no indirect fire support whatsoever in the week of fighting. All supporting fire for K Company — airstrikes, rockets, artillery and mortars — were coordinated by Marines. The Afghans also relied entirely on the American military for battlefield resupply.

Moreover, in multiple firefights in which Times journalists were present, many Afghan soldiers did not aim — they pointed their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulled their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. Their rifle muzzles were often elevated several degrees high.

Shouts from the Marines were common. “What you shooting at, Hoss?” one yelled during a long battle on the second day, as an Afghan pulled the trigger repeatedly and nonchalantly at nothing that was visible to anyone else.

Not all of their performance was this poor.

Sgt. Joseph G. Harms, a squad leader in the company’s Third Platoon, spent a week on the eastern limit of the company’s area, his unit alone with what he described as a competent Afghan contingent. In the immediacy of fighting side by side with Afghans, and often tested by Taliban fighters, he found his Afghan colleagues committed and brave.

“They are a lot better than the Iraqis,” said the sergeant, who served a combat tour in Iraq. “They understand all of our formations, they understand how to move. They know how to flank and they can recognize the bad guys a lot better than we can.”

Capt. Joshua P. Biggers, the Company K commander, said that the Afghan soldiers “could be a force multiplier.”

But both Marines suggested that the Afghan deficiencies were in the leadership ranks. “They haven’t had a chance yet to step out on their own,” Sergeant Harms said. “So they’re still following us.”

Shortfalls in the Afghan junior officer corps were starkly visible at times.

On the third day of fighting, when Company K was short of water and food, the company command group walked to the eastern limit of its operations area to supervise two Marine platoons as they seized a bridge, and to arrange fire support. The group was ambushed twice en route, coming under small-arms fire from Taliban fighters hiding on the far side of a canal.

After the bridge was seized, Captain Biggers prepared his group for the walk back. Helicopters had dropped food and water near the bridge. He ordered his Marines and the Afghans to fill their packs with it and carry it to another platoon to the west that was nearly out of supplies.

The Marines loaded up. They would walk across the danger area again, this time laden with all the water and food they could carry. The Afghans watched silently. Captain Biggers asked the Afghan platoon commander, Capt. Amanullah, to have his men pack their share.

Captain Amanullah refused, though his own soldiers to the west were out of food, too.

Captain Biggers told the interpreter to put his position in more clear terms. “Tell him that if he doesn’t carry water and chow, he and his soldiers can’t have any of ours,” he said, his voice rising.

Captain Amanullah at last directed one or two of his soldiers to carry a sleeve of bottled water or a carton of rations — a small concession. The next day, the Afghan soldiers to the west complained that they had no more food and were hungry.

It was not the first time that Captain Amanullah’s sense of entitlement, and indifference toward his troops’ well-being, had manifested itself.

The day before the helicopter assault, back at Camp Leatherneck, the largest Marine base in Helmand Province, a young Marine offered a can of Red Bull energy drink to an Afghan soldier in exchange for one of the patches on the soldier’s uniform.

Captain Amanullah, reclining on his cot, saw the deal struck. After the Afghan soldier had taken possession of his Red Bull, the captain ordered the young man to hand him the can.

The captain opened it and took a long drink, then gave what was left to his lieutenant and sergeants, who each had a sip. The last sergeant handed the empty can back to the soldier, and ordered him to throw it away.

The Marines watched with mixed amusement and disgust. In their culture, the officers and senior enlisted Marines eat last. “So much for troop welfare,” one of them said.

Lackluster leadership took other forms. On Friday night, a week into the operation, Captain Biggers told the Afghan soldiers that they would accompany him the next day to a large meeting with local elders. In the morning, the Afghans were not ready.

The Marines stood impatiently, waiting while the forces that were said by the officials in Kabul to be leading the operation slowly mustered. Captain Biggers, by now used to the delays, muttered an acronym that might sum up a war now deep into its ninth year.

“W.O.A.,” he said. “Waiting on the A.N.A.”


20 Feb 10,, 21:49
The ANA are just not stepping up to teh plate. Thats the cold hard fact. Thre are a few proficient units, specifically their "Commando" guys who have been mentored by US and other nations SF components. I have yet to see ANY footage of ANA putting down "Aimed, Controlled Fire" Doesnt matter if they are equipped with an AK, an M16, an RPK or even a PKM. Its spray and pray all the damn time. I have no faith in the ANA whatsoever to hold and secure never mind take contest territory.

I dont know how Gen McChrystal keeps a straight face when he stands up and talks about the even partnership between ANA and NATO/ISAF with regards to planning and leading operations



21 Feb 10,, 02:48
The ANA are just not stepping up to teh plate. Thats the cold hard fact. ... I have no faith in the ANA whatsoever to hold and secure never mind take contest territory.

In almost every report we read there are comparisons between the Afghans and the Iraqis, generally favorable to the Afghans, by soldiers who have served in both places. It should give some hope, but sometimes it is also disconcerting as it makes me wonder if there are more things going on which the common Afghan troopers know...

21 Feb 10,, 03:06
In almost every report we read there are comparisons between the Afghans and the Iraqis, generally favorable to the Afghans, by soldiers who have served in both places.

I hear the same thing from folks how have been on MiT (Military Transition) Teams in Iraq and the Embedded Training Teams from Afghanistan.

It would appear that the raw material in Afghanistan is marginally better than Iraq to try and build a professional military from(Warrior Culture and all that I guess). However lack of discipline ESPECIALLY in the leadership is a major hurdle in both countries. Map reading, planning, use of Comms equipment, ability to use initiative, to adapt improvise etc pretty hard to teach these things when the folks you are teaching are practically illiterate.

Dont even get me started on the stories I hear regarding drug use within the ANA.

I am not hopefull, I really hope I am wrong and would love for someone to illustrate an ANA success story for me.



Officer of Engineers
21 Feb 10,, 03:33
The ANA would be hard pressed to come up to our standards but then they don't need to. They just have to be better than their enemies. The last ANA more than did ok for themselves when the Soviets left. It was when Moscow cut off fuel, money, and ammo that things turned sour for them.

21 Feb 10,, 03:55
We're attempting to create an army from nothing and, equally, instill leadership principles that differ markedly from any past Soviet or Arab/Muslim experiences. The human material is largely illiterate, many drug-addled, facing constant AWOL/desertion-related attrition and totally lacking a formalized martial tradition.

There's no professional N.C.O. and officer corps and had we hit the ground running in early 2002, the most experienced, bright, able, and dedicated officers and N.C.O.s would have a maximum of eight years experience. That's a mid-range captain in our army. That core, even assuming it had existed, would then be diluted into the rapidly expanding effort where political expediency exceeds military logic.

This army has already been expanded too rapidly for its means. It's intended to expand faster still. Frankly, there's the bad side as highlighted by Chivers. The good side is, despite McChrystal's public pronouncements of politcally-correct encouragement, there's no way we'll be able to withdraw at a pace desired by our political leaders without having Afghanistan immediately fall back into its former ways and again present a clear and present danger to all.

My final note of concern is more ominous, IMV. What you see here is entirely likely to manifest itself again not only among other Afghan troops elsewhere but, worse, among their government-in-a-box civilian officials without close supervision and a willingness by their western mentors to call bullsh!t as the marine company commander did.

01 Mar 10,, 19:00
Afghan soldiers show improvement in Marja assault
The top Marine commander says Afghan troops, overall, exceeded his expectations. But there is still a need for more training.

By Tony Perry

March 1, 2010

Reporting from Marja, Afghanistan

The Afghan troops who supported the U.S. Marines in the battle to end Taliban control of this town in Helmand province showed marked improvement over last summer's performance in a similar fight but still need much more training, Marine commanders say.

Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the top Marine here, said that overall the Afghan battalions exceeded his expectations. Nicholson said he would give some Afghan units an A-minus or B-plus but that others, particularly those with soldiers fresh from basic training, would get a C-minus or D.

The lead Afghan commander, Brig. Gen. Mahayoodin Ghoori, agreed with Nicholson's assessment. "We fought hard, we beat the terrorists, but we need more training, especially more training with heavy weapons," Ghoori said.

The fight to oust the Taliban has been billed as a major test of the Afghan army's state of readiness to assume the lead role in providing security for the nation.

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has called for improving the Afghan army's training and increasing its size and capability. That priority has taken on added urgency since President Obama declared in December that he wants to begin withdrawing U.S. combat troops by mid-2011.

The Marines are moving to boost Afghan training by emphasizing combat leadership among the enlisted ranks and more accurate use of M-16s. The project goes by the acronym TLSR: Transition of Leading Security Responsibility.

"There is plenty of room to improve marksmanship training," said Col. Burke Whitman, the Marines' liaison to the Afghan army and police. "Our biggest focus of training is shooting skill."

On Thursday, the Afghan government held a formal flag-raising ceremony and installed a new civilian administration in Marja, a former Taliban stronghold. Marines, with British and Afghan troops, launched the 15,000-troop assault Feb. 13. Eight Marines, two Afghan soldiers and an Afghan police officer were killed in what was the largest single Western offensive since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. No official tally of Taliban dead has been kept; the number is thought to be in the hundreds.

During the height of the fighting, on the third day of the offensive, the Marines and Afghans were engaged in 36 sustained firefights with Taliban fighters. Though Afghan troops showed a willingness to fight, their effectiveness was questionable, Marines said.

"They were putting rounds down range, just like the Marines," said Lt. Col. Calvert Worth, whose battalion saw some of the heaviest fighting. "Whether they were hitting anything is another question, but they were definitely in the fight."

Although the battle plan called for the Marines to take the lead, the Afghans took the lead in capturing one key piece of terrain. "I asked the Marines later, 'Why didn't you fire?' " Nicholson said. "They said they didn't need to, the Afghans were in charge."

Other units, however, did not show the same level of aggressiveness or leadership. To boost the numbers of Afghans in the force, units whose soldiers had only eight weeks of basic training were included.

"The average Marine has a year's worth of training before he goes into combat," said Capt. Chuck Hayter, an operations officer assigned to work with the Afghans. "You can't expect someone with eight weeks of training to match that."

Frontline troops saw a full spectrum of competency among the Afghans. "Some were very good, some not good, and some so-so," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Wolfgeher.

Last summer when Marines moved overnight to wrest several Helmand province farming communities from Taliban control, the Afghan army could muster only about 600 troops. Some fought bravely, but others refused to advance, much to the consternation of Nicholson, who did not hide his disappointment.

For that offensive, the ratio of Marines to Afghans was 10 to 1. For the Marja push, about 2,000 Afghan soldiers and police turned out, and the ratio of Marines to Afghans was 2.5 to 1.

"They did well for where they are in the development of their army," said Col. Randy Newman, commander of the 7th Marine Regiment. "They were never shy about making contact. Sometimes we had to restrain them."

Afghans were assigned one of the more dangerous missions: searching buildings for Taliban fighters and weapons caches. An Afghan police officer was killed in a booby-trapped building.

Whitman, who is preparing a detailed review of the Afghans' performance, said he saw something on the eve of the assault that led him to be particularly encouraged. While Ghoori was delivering a pep talk to his soldiers, many of them pulled small Afghan flags out of their pockets and began waving them, Whitman said.

"The need for a paycheck may get men to enlist in the army," Whitman said. "But to get them to fight, you need to believe in something, your country, and I think the Afghans are beginning to have it."


Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

06 Mar 10,, 14:52
I thought about throwing this into the Marjah thread but, IMV, it reaches far deeper-

After Push Into Marja, Marines Try To Win Trust-NYT Feb. 28, 2010 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/world/asia/01marja.html?pagewanted=2&sq=c. j. chivers&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=2&adxnnlx=1267884023-3P/Aw/ow EQ2eiMpnIZX7w)

I have to take the above L.A. Times article with a massive amount of salt. It's sugar-coating the reality.

Here's a different view through the eyes of C.J. Chivers of the NYT, Co. C 1/3 Marines and Co. K 3/6 Marines. It ain't pretty-

"...Late Thursday, the Marines of Company K, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, staggered through muddy poppy fields at darkness, weighed down by weapons and backpacks and exhausted from a two-day foot patrol clearing a long stretch of road. They were out of water. They had not eaten since the previous day.

At last they reached their destination: a five-way intersection northeast of Marja. An outpost astride the road junction, built on ground seized by Company C of First Battalion, Third Marines, on Feb. 9, will be Company K’s command post, allowing Company C to return to its preoffensive duties in nearby Nawa.

These two companies had seen some of the fiercest Taliban resistance to the Marja operation. Each unit had been in more than a dozen firefights. Together they had suffered 17 casualties.

Capt. Stephan P. Karabin II, who commands Company C, greeted Company K as it arrived. His brief to the incoming officers was as forceful as what the Afghan elders had told Colonel Newman.

The Afghan soldiers who accompanied Company C, he said, had looted the 84-booth Semitay Bazaar immediately after the Marines swept through and secured it. Then the Afghan soldiers refused to stand post in defensive bunkers, or to fill sandbags as the Americans, sometimes under fire, hardened their joint outpost. Instead, they spent much of their time walking in the bazaar, smoking hashish.

Company K had stories of its own. As its own Marines stumbled wearily across friendly lines, much of the Afghan platoon that worked with them was straggling behind, unable to keep pace..."

I guess these are the guys for whom Brig. Gen. Nicholson would be giving a "D" grade. There've been other stories from Marjah filed by Chivers already that substantiate much of this nonsense.

These aren't cops, btw. As far as cops go, the locals have already said they'll fight the cops (and us) to the death.

Meanwhile, the newly-appointed deputy district governor for the area is being accused of spending four years in a German prison for assaulting his stepson. Everybody denies it and the Germans aren't saying. Months to plan the op and nobody thought to vett this dude before now. Right or wrong, Afghan way or otherwise, this shouldn't be aired publically and wouldn't have been if the proper due diligence to winning the peace was really being applied.

WAPO, though, says the guy actually STABBED his stepson-

New Top Official In Marjah, Afghanistan Was Convicted Of Stabbing Stepson-WAPO March 6, 2010 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/05/AR2010030504375.html)

I'm not asking for perfection and a WSJ article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704869304575103981707610788.html?m od=WSJ_World_LeadStory) draws a picture of a guy who's working hard to gain local trust but, right or wrong, it's indicative that we're not applying our thinking hats to possible issues as thoroughly as is necessary given the obvious scrutiny and global interest. You've the biggest papers in the world with their noses knee-deep in this battle and they're doing a GREAT job of looking and seeing.

What they see isn't inspiring confidence.

What a fcukin' mess...:mad:

05 Jul 10,, 20:00
Undisciplined Afghans endanger Marjah Marines
Undisciplined Afghans endanger Marjah Marines - MarineCorpsTimes.com (http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/06/marine_ana_062110w/)
By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jun 23, 2010 9:18:21 EDT

MARJAH, Afghanistan — Many Afghan National Army troops who work and patrol with U.S. Marines are considered a nuisance at best and a danger at worst.

Many refuse to go on patrol, smoke hashish and sleep while on guard — just a few things they do that would have any Marine in hot water.

But Marines aren’t universally down on the ability of Afghan security forces, who are partnered with each Marine unit in Helmand province. Some say they have met good Afghan soldiers who fight with courage, take pride in their work and are proficient with weapons ranging from the 5.56mm M249 squad automatic weapon to rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

But the general consensus from rank and file infantrymen is that for every good ANA soldier, there are at least five or six who are lazy, incompetent or both.

“They’re not willing to do the job it takes to defend their country,” said Lance Cpl. Lucas McGary, a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. “They’re so worthless that their worthlessness doesn’t faze anyone anymore.”

Such frustration is fostered by incidents that span a variety of categories:

• 1. Safety. Marines say Afghan soldiers aren’t careful with their weapons, and numerous accidents have occurred because of it. On two occasions, an ANA soldier based with India Company, 3/6, negligently discharged a SAW within ANA living quarters, each time shooting a round into a wall, Marines said. Another time, an Afghan soldier partnered with India’s 3rd Platoon accidentally shot himself in the foot with an M16A2 rifle while on patrol, said Staff Sgt. Ryan Clay, the platoon sergeant.

An Afghan soldier partnered with Kilo Company, 3/6, recently wounded himself after negligently discharging his M16A2 as well. His weapon went off while his right hand was on the muzzle and the weapon was pointed skyward, said Staff Sgt. Gearold Provence, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of an embedded training team. The weapon was set for a three-round burst — one round hit his thumb, another hit a finger and the third was discharged into the air, Provence said.

• 2. Discipline. Marines say that while some Afghan soldiers are willing to defend their country, many appear to have become soldiers for the paycheck, food and water. For example, while manning a small patrol base here, Marines with India Company’s 3rd Platoon struggled to get just two ANA soldiers to join them on most security patrols. Eventually, the 11 soldiers they partnered with were transferred to another security base with more supervision. Afghan soldiers also are frequently late for patrols, and sometimes sleep on the job when they’re supposed to join Marines in standing guard at patrol bases, Marines said.

• 3. Bravery. Some Afghans have performed courageously under fire, but many panic when the Taliban attacks, said Lance Cpl. Eric Sickler, a rifleman with India Company, 3/6. Pinned down in a firefight, some choose to stay behind cover and point their weapons over the top of barriers, blindly shooting at the enemy, he said. The problem has persisted despite numerous corrections, Marines said.

• 4. Officers. Marines say they are frustrated that whenever a decision has to be made involving the ANA, it must go through the senior-most Afghan officer available. The system runs counter to the Corps’ reliance on NCOs and slows decision-making on the run, they say.
New recruits, new problems

Afghanistan’s army has long had a reputation for incompetence and corruption. However, Marines here praise the effort of the last group of Afghan soldiers who fought with them, the ANA’s 203rd Corps. That unit included seasoned veterans who fought side by side with U.S. forces during the initial push into this former Taliban stronghold, which is home to tens of thousands of civilians. They had fought the Taliban in Khost province and other areas of eastern Afghanistan for months, and weren’t afraid of combat.

The 203rd Corps, however, returned to eastern Afghanistan this spring and has been replaced with troops from the recently formed — and still growing — 215th Corps, based in Helmand province. The 215th was activated in April at Camp Shoraback, a part of Camp Leatherneck where Afghan troops are trained. There are more than 104,000 ANA soldiers across Afghanistan, with plans to increase the service to 134,000 by October.

Ultimately, the 215th Corps is expected to take control of Helmand’s security. For now, however, there will be growing pains. Sergeants and officers are often no more than 20 years old, and they struggle to assert authority over their junior enlisted troops who are unwilling to perform a required task, Marines said.

“When you have a sergeant who’s a problem, it’s really an issue,” said 1st Lt. Ramon McCrimmon, the officer in charge of a team of Marine trainers with Kilo, 3/6. “It poisons the whole platoon.”

Afghan troops say they’re trying their best, but don’t always get the gear they need. Their boots, provided by the Afghanistan government, fall apart within weeks, and they drive around in old U.S. Humvees and Ford Ranger pickup trucks, rather than armored mine-resistant vehicles.

Ahmad Mokhtar, 19, the executive officer for an ANA company attached to Kilo Company, said there is sometimes tension between Afghan soldiers and the Marines. The fault, he said, can lie with either side, depending on the incident. Speaking through an interpreter, he said the weapons handling of the 70 soldiers in his company will improve with time, but that they didn’t have enough training before becoming soldiers.

The Marine Corps is aware of the shortfalls in the 215th Corps and is working to address the issues, said Terry Walker, a retired chief warrant officer 5 who serves as the top training adviser for Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, commander of Marine forces in Afghanistan.

“Many of the 215th Corps officers are as newly minted as the corps itself,” Walker said. “Most of the company-grade officers are serving in their first unit. One could expect a growth period coupled with a hesitancy to act.”

Most recruits in the 215th were “force-fed” from the Kabul National Training Center run by NATO forces, Walker said. The Marine Corps recently began to train ANA troops at Camp Leatherneck, graduating its first class of about 80 troops June 2. The Corps will begin a separate class at Leatherneck next month to train Afghan NCOs.

“We have not had sufficient time partnering with these new units to instill our Marine warrior ethos into each and every one of these new recruits,” Walker said. “Given more time, we will instill a fighting spirit into all of our [Afghan National Security Forces]. This takes time, and our Marine units are up to the task.”

Brig. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of 1st Marine Division (Forward) in Afghanistan, said many of the problems he sees now with the Afghan army were present in the early days of developing the Iraqi army a few years ago.

“I see a lot of the same things, in terms of force development and maturation kind of things,” he said. “I know it’s frustrating for the individual Marines sometimes, but … this is right on the glide slope of where you’d expect [the new soldiers] to be.”

02 Mar 11,, 15:37
Afghans not ready: troops
Dan Oakes and Rafael Epstein
March 2, 2011
Afghans not ready: troops (http://www.watoday.com.au/national/afghans-not-ready-troops-20110302-1bf06.html)
AUSTRALIAN troops have hit out at plans to hand control to Afghan troops in Oruzgan, claiming the locals are not ready to take responsibility in the province.

The Defence Force this week confirmed a recent report in The Age that the next rotation of Australian troops in the province will concentrate on mentoring Afghan National Army headquarters staff, rather than the Afghan troops battling the Taliban.

A Defence spokesman said there had been a ''quantitative and qualitative'' improvement in the Afghan troops living and fighting alongside the Australian Mentoring Task Force Two, which will be relieved by Mentoring Task Force Three mid-year.
Advertisement: Story continues below

However, Australian troops claim that Afghans are categorically unprepared to take responsibility for Oruzgan. ''If they [the Australian government] are just looking for an expedient way of withdrawing, well then let's say that,'' one soldier said.

02 Mar 11,, 17:45
"If they [the Australian government] are just looking for an expedient way of withdrawing, well then let's say that,''

Count on a soldier down on the deck to call it plainly. I've grave doubts about the ANA and have no illusions were we to downsize our troop efforts in the field now. Frankly, I'm unsure whether three additional years will make any substantive difference but we can only hope...and work hard.

31 Mar 11,, 21:31
In northern Afghanistan, many of those claiming rewards for giving up the fight were never insurgents in the first place.

By Abdul Latif Sahak- Afghanistan
ARR Issue 394,
30 Mar 11

While the Afghan authorities say hundreds of insurgents have surrendered since a new peace mechanism was established last year, others are less than convinced.

Sources interviewed by IWPR in northern Afghanistan say many of those coming over to the government are not insurgents at all. As long as the real Taleban stay away, analysts say there is little point to this aspect of the peace process.

A 70-member High Peace Council started work last autumn with a mandate both to bring the Taleban’s top leaders to the negotiating table and to encourage individual combatants and commanders to give up the fight. Speaking in October, the council’s spokesman Qiyamuddin Kashaf said militants might be offered money, jobs and housing if they renounced violence.

Sher Zaman Saberzada, the peace council’s secretary in Mazar-e Sharif, the administrative centre of Balkh province, has confirmed to IWPR that individuals will be provided with a package consisting of a one-off sum of money – which he would not name – a stipend of 80 US dollars a month, rented accommodation, food and clothing. He also said they would be offered counselling and employment.

Since the council was set up, there have been a series of news reports on members of insurgent groups coming over to the government side in various parts of Afghanistan. In northern Afghanistan, officials say around 300 insurgents have done so.

In Samangan province, for example, the surrender of insurgent commander Mohammad Ismail and around two dozen of his men in early February was hailed as a success. Provincial governor Khairullah Anosh said, “There are other discontented individuals in this province, as well, and they will all surrender if they receive the benefits.”

Mohammad Ismail said his group wanted the money and other perks they believed were due to them, “otherwise my men will distance themselves from the government again”.

The principal targets of the process are the Taleban movement itself and its smaller ally Hezb-i Islami, an armed faction led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Logically, most of those surrendering should come from one of the groups at war with the government and its western allies, but IWPR’s sources suggest this is not the case in the north, at least.

According to officials and local commentators, many of those surrendering in fact belong to a number of armed groups that have nothing to do with the insurgency. They seem motivated by a desire to take advantage of the concessions, financial and otherwise, offered to surrendering militants.

Militia groups attached to political factions, many of them originally part of the mujahedin who fought the Soviet-backed government in the 1980s, were supposed to have disbanded under the post-Taleban administration from 2001 onwards. To achieve this, the United Nations sponsored a Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration process, and when that ended in 2005, a second programme called Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups specifically targeted the large number of informal units that remained.

Gol Rahman Hamdard, a tribal elder in northern Afghanistan, said he knew of individuals “surrendering” when they were not Taleban members, but paramilitaries loyal to militia commanders and senior political figures.

“The various militarised factions are doing this to win all kind of privileges for their militias, and then incorporate them into the local police as a way of ensuring their own survival and also of gaining leverage against the government,” Hamdard said.

A senior officer with the Afghan National Army, ANA, confirmed that individuals who surrendered were being recruited into the police force, after a three-month period in which their behaviour was monitored and they were paid 400 dollars a month.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was pessimistic about the outcome of reintegration, saying these men were unreliable.

“These individuals have committed crimes for years; they belong to the old factions. If they join the army and police, they will think only of personal and factional gains,” he said.

He questioned the integrity of the process, arguing that some of the High Peace Council’s members were regional politicians whose loyalty to central government was uncertain and who were packing the ranks of the “surrendered” with armed militiamen associated with them.

General Zalmai Weesa, commander of the ANA’s 209th Shahin Corps in Balkh, said the armed factions far outnumbered the Taleban in the region he covered, and were playing both sides according to how it suited them.

“These individuals play the role of Taleban, the opposition, whenever they perceive the government to be weak, but they immediately join it when it is control of their area. They surrender and claim the benefits,” he said.

Unlike these opportunistic groups, General Weesa said, genuine members of the Taleban and al-Qaeda would never give up the fight.

A spokesman for the Taleban, Zabiullah Mojahed, denied government claims that men were surrendering, and also that the movement as a whole was prepared to talk peace.

“It’s all just lies,” he told IWPR in a telephone interview. “No Taleban member has surrendered. It’s all their own people, who are corralled into this for propaganda purposes. It’s a media performance.”

He finished with a threat of renewed violence, saying, “This spring, it will become apparent whether or not the Taleban really have surrendered.”

Ataullah Ludin, deputy head of the High Peace Council and a former Hezb-i Islami commander, said he was unaware of people pretending to be insurgents joining the reconciliation process, but added, “The government should welcome anyone who has a weapon and who will end his opposition to the government.”

General Daud Daud, commander of the Afghan National Police’s Pamir zone, acknowledged that some of those signing up to the peace process were militia members rather than Taleban, but added that a screening system was in place.

“We investigate these individuals. Those who really have fought against the government on several occasions count as genuine opposition members, whereas those who use the process just to obtain benefits will never be included in this category and they won’t get anything,” he said.

Analysts critical of the way the reconciliation process is being handled say it is not targeting the insurgents in the way that has been claimed.

Fahim Hamdard, a political expert in Balkh, noted that this is not the first reconciliation effort from President Hamid Karzai. The High Peace Council’s predecessor was the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, set up in 2005. But he argues that it achieved little of note.

“The commission similarly announced that thousands of opposition members had come over to the government in those years,” Hamdard said. “Meanwhile, the number of opposition members was increased day after day, rather than falling.”

He said only political engagement with the Taleban would work, as its ideology-driven footsoldiers would never surrender just to get money and housing.

“If the peace council and the Afghan government want reconciliation, they will have to talk to the leaders of the Taleban,” he said.

Aref Musawi, a political expert in Balkh Province agreed that ordinary Taleban members “will never go over to the government just like that”.

“They will do so only when their leaders join the government,” he said.

Musawi drew a historical analogy with the late 1980s, when President Najibullah’s government attempted to reach an accommodation with the mujahedin following the Soviet military withdrawal.

Initially, the plan seemed to be working as hundreds of fighters ostensibly from mujahedin groups pledged allegiance to Najibullah. But it ended badly in 1992, with the same mujahedin factions overrunning Kabul, ousting the government and embarking on a bloody internecine conflict.

Abdul Latif Sahak is an IWPR-trained reporter in Balkh province, northern Afghanistan.

"Taleban Surrenders" Not All They Seem - IWPR Institute for War & Peace Reporting - P142 (http://iwpr.net/report-news/%E2%80%9Ctaleban-surrenders%E2%80%9D-not-all-they-seem)

01 Apr 11,, 02:18
Are we surprised that in this new land of opportunity there are opportunists to be found...under every rock?

The Pakistanis haven't learned and neither have the afghans. You want peace and cooperation then, as a state, you exercise a monopoly on violence. If that's unattainable then so too statehood.

Anything else is a sham and for most central asian and mid-east societies that's exactly the case. Where tribal allegiance trumps allegiance to a nat'l entity then there's logically no foundation for governance.

Afghanistan deserves to be carved up.

28 Apr 11,, 18:14
IMHO we should have never placed a single Pasthun in the ANA, kept it a smaller mobile force of 50-60k or so and had a larger ANP.

Karzai considers military draft in Afghanistan

Karzai considers military draft in Afghanistan - The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/karzai-considers-military-draft-in-afghanistan/2011/04/27/AFe0HL6E_story.html)

By Joshua Partlow, Updated: Thursday, April 28, 11:18 AM

KABUL — Faced with daunting bills and uncertain about the United States’ long-term commitment to fund the Afghan army and police, President Hamid Karzai is considering a military draft to replace the all-volunteer force being built in Afghanistan, according to senior Afghan officials.

The prospect of mandatory conscription, though still only a topic of discussion, has some appeal for Karzai as it would be a cheaper alternative than fielding the costly security forces that are rapidly growing with American money and support, the officials said. The Afghan security forces are projected to cost more than $6 billion to sustain in 2014, the year Afghans are set to take sole control of their combat duties — a vast sum for a country that took in $1.5 billion in revenue last year.



* Weigh In
* Corrections?


 Continued photo coverage of the U.S., Afghan and NATO military effort in Afghanistan.

“The number of Afghan security forces should be adequate to the security environment we have,” said Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Afghanistan’s national security adviser. “I don’t think we will have endlessly a very expensive army that we have to pay for.”

The topic has come up amid the ongoing negotiations between the United States and Afghanistan to reach a “strategic partnership” agreement that would outline the terms of America’s commitment here beyond 2014. American and Afghan officials alike worry about the ability of the United States and its NATO allies to foot the massive costs of the security forces for many years into the future.

Karzai also has political concerns about such an ambitious commitment. The starting salary for an army private is $165 a month, rising to over $200 for those in hazardous areas, which is more than some judges or prosecutors or teachers make. A draft probably would allow the government to pay its troops less than it does now.

Karzai has worried that devoting too many of the state’s resources to the security forces — projected to be 310,000-strong later this year — could create an entitled military class with imposing political power that could undermine civilian authority, much as it has in Pakistan.

Karzai has publicly proposed the idea of a draft in the past, including during a visit to Germany in February 2010.

“This is a discussion,” Spanta said of the draft idea, adding that it is being looked at for after 2014. “It’s not in the implementation phase.”

U.S. military officials involved in building the Afghan security forces have long opposed the idea of a draft. They argue that soldiers and police require a good wage to attract recruits and that they have already improved the ethnic balance of the security forces. Enticing Pashtuns from southern Afghanistan to fight the predominantly Pashtun Taliban has been an obstacle for years. But the aggressive recruiting drive for soldiers and police has already surpassed authorities’ targets.

“Why would you need a draft when you’ve got an over-abundance of recruits?” asked one U.S. military official in Kabul involved in the training effort. On a draft, the official said, “our position would be absolutely not.”

A senior U.S. military official said that the notion of a draft has not come up in conversation with defense minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. A spokesman for Wardak said the constitution allows for conscription but “I think in the current situation, the country is not ready for a military draft.”

Conscription is not new in Afghanistan. The country had a draft during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s as well as the previous four-decade rule of King Zahir Shah. Even with mandatory military service, some areas of the country, including Pashtun areas of the southeast, were exempt and security was provided by local tribal militias. The prospect of bringing back the draft would face similar problems today in rural areas detached from the central government, said Seth Jones, a Rand Corp. analyst and Afghanistan expert.

“There are some areas, including Pashtun areas, that are likely to be deeply resistant to conscription, because they’re not going to want to be part of the central government,” Jones said.

“The most important issue is will that make the army a more effective fighting force? What Afghanistan looks like in five to 10 years, a lot of these debates ... will be irrelevant or moot if the government loses,” he added. “The most immediate issue is to win the war.”

28 Apr 11,, 18:54
Interesting question and the costs of a professional army are certainly an interesting dilemma. Not sure the answer but I've not seen much indication of professionalism among soldiers of the afghan army. I'm sure there are units that are good. I'd be surprised if any are as good as an average ISAF battalion. I suspect the vast majority are, however, poor soldiers and leaders at this point. I've also little prospect that such will improve anytime soon.

Those thoughts, however, are based upon perceptions and anecdotal evidence provided by news articles about graft, theft, drug use and killings of NATO soldiers.

28 Apr 11,, 19:36
Interesting question and the costs of a professional army are certainly an interesting dilemma. Not sure the answer but I've not seen much indication of professionalism among soldiers of the afghan army. I'm sure there are units that are good. I'd be surprised if any are as good as an average ISAF battalion. I suspect the vast majority are, however, poor soldiers and leaders at this point. I've also little prospect that such will improve anytime soon.

A smaller army could have had a better ratio of advisers and more resources per person poured in. We are building a half million man security force for a nation which cannot feed itself or pay for their troops.

28 Apr 11,, 19:43
ANA is PINO(professional in name only).A draft will not affect the army's expertise.However,the big issue is not the competence,its the loyalty.I try to imagine the army being loyal to Karzai(or whomever will lord over Kabul),but I can't.I foresee the ANA splitting along the old lines-Pashtuns vs the rest.

Red Seven
01 May 11,, 21:18
...Many Afghan National Army troops who work and patrol with U.S. Marines are considered a nuisance at best and a danger at worst. Many refuse to go on patrol, smoke hashish and sleep while on guard...the general consensus from rank and file infantrymen is that for every good ANA soldier, there are at least five or six who are lazy, incompetent or both.

The parallels between this and my earlier experience with ARVN are downright spooky. ANA and ARVN counterparts might as well be one in the same. The only thing missing from the above assessment is that one man in ten is potentially treacherous. I could write pages here about the difficulties of combined operations between soldiers of vastly different cultural backgrounds, but I don't have the energy. Suffice it to say that it takes a great deal of time and patience to work out an efficient relationship and most young soldiers of any culture have neither the patience nor the time in their deployments.

I expect ANA will, like ARVN, get it's ass kicked once we unass the AO.

02 May 11,, 15:14

I expect ANA will, like ARVN, get it's ass kicked once we unass the AO.

OTOH, the Taliban and the other militias/groups floating around aren't the NVA, either. and unlike the Vietnam War there's no Great Power egging on the other side. the fear is not so much the ANA getting their ass kicked but actually breaking up into little militias everywhere.

Red Seven
02 May 11,, 15:57

OTOH, the Taliban and the other militias/groups floating around aren't the NVA, either. and unlike the Vietnam War there's no Great Power egging on the other side. the fear is not so much the ANA getting their ass kicked but actually breaking up into little militias everywhere.

Yep, you're right. No comprehensive ass-kicking here, more likely dissolution. Have AK, will travel.

28 May 11,, 16:46
A young ANA officer in the 5th Commando Battalion uncovered a sophisticated payroll diversion fraud scheme. Not without considerable personal and professional risk-

Afghan Army Theft Shows Fraud Is Widespread-NYT May 28, 2011 (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/05/28/world/asia/AP-AS-Afghan-Army-Stolen-Salaries.html?_r=1&ref=world)

Lt. Abdul Wakil's investigation of his unit, despite command interference and threats to his life, revealed a sophisticated scheme that defied a direct-deposit system imposed to prevent salary theft.

Using the accounts of troops who'd deserted without removing them from the active rosters, the battalion payroll officer and two subordinates diverted pay to fictional troopers into their own accounts. Wakil became suspicious because the unit had never had a desertion. Seemingly a rare good exception to most afghan troop units, this proved illusory but a convenient vehicle to divert funds.

"Shamsudin received a three-year prison sentence, while Jawed and Hemran were sentenced to two years each. Seven others were convicted and ordered restricted to base for six months to one year at reduced salaries, including Lt. Col. Basir [Battalion commander], who was convicted of negligence.

Shamsudin, Jawed and Hemran were fined $4,000, $19,000 and $7,400 respectively, fines the court said reflected twice the amounts they stole.

Jawed's attorney, Abdul Matin, said his client and the others were scapegoats and the case would not stop corruption in the military.

'Stealing money in the commando battalion is a reality,' Matin said.

'The thought among the people is that this government we have is temporary. There may be another one in a few months or a few days,' he said. 'So everyone steals.'"

Sadly, the defense attorney might be correct.

23 Oct 13,, 18:46
BBC News - Officer academy dubbed Afghan Sandhurst opens its doors (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24629331)

Hopefully this one at least, will be an effort worth the investment and one that pays off.

23 Oct 13,, 19:13
It's so good living in 2003 ;)

28 Jan 14,, 17:28
BBC News - Equality for women at Afghanistan's officer academy (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25763312)