News / Asia

NATO Drawdown in Afghanistan Poses Challenges for Afghan Military

Multimedia

The international community is starting to draw the combat phase of its mission in Afghanistan to a close, with international troops this week beginning to transfer security control to their Afghan counterparts. A key component of the security transition involves the training of Afghan forces.

Afghans are looking to the future as NATO security forces this week began the process of handing over seven districts to Afghan authority.

Certain parts of Afghanistan that have had little insurgent activity or are considered relatively safe will now be controlled and protected by the country's own security forces.

The new commander of U.S. and NATO Forces in Afghanistan, Marine Lt. General John Allen, spoke at the handover ceremony in Lashkar Gah, the town in Helmand province that has seen some of the nearly 10-year-old war's worst fighting.

He said it is now up to Afghans to safeguard the nation.  "This means it will be Afghan soldiers, Afghan police and Afghan patrolmen who will take the lead in ensuring the transition is irreversible," Allen noted.

In many parts of southern Afghanistan, a "surge" of U.S. forces has marginalized the Taliban's ability to take control of territory. However, the insurgents show they can continue to exert influence through high profile, surgical strikes.

And the recent killing in Kandahar of provincial council head Ahmad Wali Karzai, President Hamid Karzai's half brother, has destabilized the south just as the transition is getting into full swing, leaving a vacuum in the power structure.

As the NATO-led mission draws down, it only increases the need for strong and capable Afghan forces that can take over, providing Afghan protection for Afghanistan.  And that is a tall order. At a tent city in Kabul, thousands of illiterate recruits are being taught reading, writing and arithmetic.  They must learn these basics before they can even think of picking up a weapon.

The cadets come from across Afghanistan, compounding the difficulty of training them: there are at least eight different languages in the ethnically diverse country.

But NATO trainers like Captain Carl Gunther say the benefit to Afghanistan from such a program goes well beyond just security.

"The soldier is coming into the program and after eight weeks is able to do basic literacy as well as mathematics," Gunther explained.  "And this not only enables him to perform his mission and job as a soldier, but upon his conclusion - within his time in the service - he then goes back to a civilian world and is able to take that literacy back to his village and to his home. And so in the long term effect it is helping to grow Afghanistan as a whole."

But the soldier's return to his village is also a challenge for NATO and the government, because many will receive training and equipment and return home early. NATO military authorities admit that "retention" is a challenge and that they are addressing it by making sure the Afghan soldier remains committed.

But for some young men, the sense of duty and dedication is clearly apparent.  Cadet Mustafa Hawadi hopes to attend a four-year program at West Point, after which, he says, he will return to Afghanistan as an officer - bound to a 10-year tour of duty.

"Sir, I hope to learn a modern tactics, and modern lessons about military life, how to react, how to serve, how to use my tactics, my ability, my….I mean, all my self-confidence for Afghan national army and its people," Hawadi said.

At the handover ceremony in the troubled south, local forces say they are ready to begin protecting their own people. How they perform will be crucial for the future of the country. And for bringing an end to U.S. involvement in what is now America's longest war.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs