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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid