News / Asia

NATO Struggles to Train Afghan Army, But Officials Cite Progress

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid