News / Asia

    Afghan Recruits Train for Guerrilla War

    Inside this sprawling desert-like compound on the outskirts of Kabul, some 11,000 soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers are training to join the Afghan army - an army that independent and U.S. government analysts are warning is not yet ready to take over the country's fragile security structure.

    According to NATO estimates, more than a quarter of Afghanistan's army will leave this year due to attrition, and almost 3,000 will have been killed or wounded. That means the military will have to boost its recruitment efforts just to maintain its numbers. An overwhelming majority of those who join are functionally illiterate.

    The latest Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction report also finds that the Afghan government is likely to be incapable of sustaining its military facilities. These are harsh judgments for a military that soon will have to function on its own.

    Reading, writing, weapons

    The military is working hard to dispel those perceptions and strengthen its capabilities before international combat forces finally leave in 2014. At the Kabul Military Training Center, soldiers are taught to read and write, are trained on NATO weapons, and learn about guerrilla warfare.

    Brig. General Aminullah Patyani, head of the Training Center, said right now the country is facing "a war against terrorism, insurgents, and the people they are trying to attack." He said the training here is preparing his soldiers for an intelligence-led guerrilla war.

    Patyani added that there is significant coordination between the Ministry of Defense and the Afghan National Directorate of Security. One official told VOA that in addition to military intelligence, some 40 to 50 officers from Afghanistan's intelligence services are training with the four battalions of soldiers here, totaling more than 5,000.

    Dotted around the dusty KMTC compound on the outskirts of the city, hidden behind shale-rock mountains, groups of soldiers in green camouflage are grabbing their M16s and lying on the ground shooting at paper targets. Off in the distance, special forces units can be seen training in re-creations of walled areas.

    Inside a sprawling desert-like compound on the outskirts of Kabul, some 11,000 soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers are training to join the Afghan army, November 2012. (Sharon Behn/VOA)Inside a sprawling desert-like compound on the outskirts of Kabul, some 11,000 soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers are training to join the Afghan army, November 2012. (Sharon Behn/VOA)
    x
    Inside a sprawling desert-like compound on the outskirts of Kabul, some 11,000 soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers are training to join the Afghan army, November 2012. (Sharon Behn/VOA)
    Inside a sprawling desert-like compound on the outskirts of Kabul, some 11,000 soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers are training to join the Afghan army, November 2012. (Sharon Behn/VOA)
    Meeting challenges

    There are also coalition soldiers and commanders here, in what they call a "mentoring" role, as well as private U.S. contractors, like Dyncorp. They say they are needed less and less as Afghan forces become more independent.

    But others are concerned. Former Ghazni governor Shir Khosti is not convinced that the Afghan military is ready for the challenges ahead.  He said weak vetting procedures have led to insider attacks, and he cited serious truancy problems. Khosti also claimed that so far, the army has not won the confidence of the people.

    "Asking the Afghan government of course they are always saying 'we are ready to take over,'" Khosti said. "But asking any ordinary Afghan are they ready to protect, and the answer is no."

    Preparing for handover

    Former military and intelligence officer Jawed Kohistani said the Defense Ministry simply does not have a comprehensive and targeted plan.

    "We don't have any strategy on dealing with the Taliban or against the intelligence service of neighboring countries," he said. "All training of soldiers and security forces must be based on a specific strategy, which will give them the morale to fight."

    Brig. General Patyani is confident that his troops are up to the task.

    "The way our security forces are right now, with the high morale that they have, they will be able to operate and defend from that threat," he said.

    These soldiers training today will have two years to prove their commander right.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora