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  1. #31
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    latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-afghan-marja1-2010mar01,0,1111925.story
    latimes.com
    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."

    tony.perry@latimes.com

    Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  2. #32

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    We've Got Problems

    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

    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

    I'm not asking for perfection and a WSJ article 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...
    Last edited by S2; 07 Mar 10, at 08:10.
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  3. #33
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    Undisciplined Afghans endanger Marjah Marines
    Undisciplined Afghans endanger Marjah Marines - MarineCorpsTimes.com
    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.”
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  4. #34
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    Afghans not ready: troops
    Dan Oakes and Rafael Epstein
    March 2, 2011
    Afghans not ready: troops
    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.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  5. #35

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    Troung Reply

    "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.
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  6. #36
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    “Taleban Surrenders” Not All They Seem

    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

  7. #37

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    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.
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  8. #38
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    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

    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.

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    “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.”
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  9. #39

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    troung Reply

    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.
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    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    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.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  11. #41
    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    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.
    Those who know don't speak
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

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    Quote Originally Posted by troung View Post
    ...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.
    Last edited by Red Seven; 01 May 11, at 22:26.

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    Red,

    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.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    Red,



    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.

  15. #45

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    A Young ANA Officer, Fraud and Courage

    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

    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.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

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