Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Too Little, Too Late?

It is 2010, and it seems that only now that there are adequate trainers on the ground in Afghanistan.  It has always been the case that the Afghan Army and Police would require a massive investment to even have a chance of success.  But many opportunities and time were lost.  And doing it faster is not necessarily doing it better.
 Early this year, the Pentagon and senior Afghan and American officers in Kabul insisted that the complex operation to re-establish a government presence in Marja, a Taliban stronghold, was “Afghan led.”  It was not. And many Afghan units, by the accounts of many Americans present, performed poorly. Some units openly shirked combat duty — refusing to patrol, or sending a bare minimum of soldiers on American patrols, sometimes only a pair of soldiers to accompany an American platoon. The remaining Afghans stayed behind, lounging in the relative safety of outposts the Americans secured.
It has always been a tough, tough mission given the starting point of an illiterate pool of potential recruits.  This story provides a pretty even-handed perspective.   The frustrating thing is that people are asking for patience now, but nine years have elapsed.  It is not their fault that much of that time was wasted, but the reality is that patience has its limits.  It will be interesting to see what comes of the next review--how realistic it is and what choices become available to Obama. 

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