Support: April 24, 2003

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The ultimate in combat support is the effort required to build an army from scratch. In Afghanistan, the lack of a professional army has left security in the country controlled by some 100,000 gunmen working for dozens of local warlords. Only 4,000 Afghan troops have finished their training so far. These belong to the "Central Corps," a force of several brigades headquartered around the capital, Kabul. The U.S. has spent over $200 million on this project so far. Most of that has gone into construction. Three bases (one a training base) have been built around Kabul. The Central Corps will eventually have 9,000 troops, and the entire army will comprise 70,000 troops when the recruiting and training program is complete. The new camps will make recruiting easier, as they provide such luxuries (by Afghan standards) as 24 hour electricity, running water and regular meals and pay (just raised from $50 to $70 a month.) For a young Afghan man to join the national army, he is taking some major risks. The training turns the recruit into a soldier of Afghanistan, and less a member of his tribe. That could be dangerous down the road if the soldier's unit finds itself facing off against some tribal kinsmen. It will cost several billion dollars to finish recruiting and training the army. The problem with Afghanistan is that it is a poor, landlocked, lawless nation that has never known sustained law and order and central government. The power of the tribes has never been broken, and it remains to be seen if the latest version of the Afghan National Army will be successful at it.

 


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