News / Asia

NATO Struggles to Train Afghan Army, But Officials Cite Progress

The sound of gunfire and yelling punctures the air as Afghan soldiers run through a recent exercise at the Kabul military training center. Firing blanks from their rifles, they advance on an identified enemy position as their NATO trainers watch.  While thousands of young Afghans are being run through their paces, this class may be one of the most important, because it is training the new leaders of the Afghan army.

Building a credible Afghan army is one of NATO's main tasks in Afghanistan and a pillar of its exit strategy. It is a massive undertaking, and the current lack of mid-level leadership experience leaves a big gap in the force.  But Afghans will have to learn more how to fight. They need the skills to maintain a functioning and effedtive military - everything from engineering to logistics, a task made more complicated by widespread illiteracy.

British Sergeant Major John Penney is training alongside the young recruits, who says will become the backbone of the future army.

"While this army is going to take over the security from ISAF of Afghanistan, they need to have these young officers in place, trained, confident, in the ability that they can carry out their role and duty on the front line," Sergeant Penny said.

But more than a decade of civil war and Taliban rule mean there is a lack of mid-level officers with experience. To augment this, the army is recruiting former mujahadeen fighters who battled the Soviet-backed army. The head of the training center, Brigadier General Aminullah Patyani, once fought against the mujahadeen, but now he is glad they are here and hopes former Taliban fighters will be as well.

"I welcome our Afghan brothers who have fought against the government, to lay down their weapons he says, and join the Afghan National army, our doors are open," Patyani said.

The NATO training mission has been criticized for shortening basic soldier training courses. Mission leader Lieutenant General William Caldwell dismmised the concerns, saying training continues in the field with Afghan soldiers partnered with NATO forces.

"If we're not there with them we're not continuing their development, which is really important.  So we have to be out there with them in the field, operating with them," Calwell said. "We have not done that well in the past."

Caldwell and his Afghan counterparts report progress toward the goal of training 171,000 Afghan soldiers by October. Some mistakes have been made, they admit, but add they have learned important lessons. Afghan analyst Kate Clark is skeptical the NATO team is offering anything new.

"They've been doing this strategy for years... they've always, the ANA [Afghan National Army] has always been heavily mentored, and very strongly embedded foreign mentors and I think one of the concerns is when those mentors are taken away, the ANA is very, very weak indeed," said Clark.

The training contingent makes up about 3 percent of total NATO forces in Afghanistan. When troops begin to leave as scheduled next year, training officials say they will remain. They say they will be training the army for years to come.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More