NATO countries have been unable,
or sometimes unwilling, to provide training teams for Afghan police and army
units. As a result, the U.S. has undertaken most of the army training. This is
done with 10-20 man teams of army or marine troops. Most of the army trainers
are National Guard reservists. The
Americans send their trainers (mainly officers and NCOs) through a three month
training course, and provide the training materials used to NATO nations, for
training their own teams. The major problem is getting the volunteers for these
teams. It's a 15 month assignment (three months training and 12 months doing
the deed). Most NATO officers and troops would rather fight than be stuck
training Afghans. However, many NATO nations forbid their troops from operating
in combat zones, and want to restrict their troops to peacekeeping type duties.
Since the training teams actually go into combat with Afghan units, this
discourages NATO nations from providing trainers.
years of badgering by the United States, more NATO training teams are being
made available, and this year, the majority of the twenty teams in Afghanistan
are non-U.S. This has created another problem. Every nation providing training
teams, tends to teach military techniques the trainers are most familiar with.
So each Afghan unit gets taught how to do things a little differently. Turns
out that this is not that much of a problem in Afghanistan, where there has
never been a lot of uniformity in the army. In fact, the army currently being
trained is the most professional and best trained one Afghanistan has ever had.
Afghans have their own way of carrying out military operations. Officers tend
to be regarded as warrior chiefs, and often act accordingly. This is the result
of thousands of years of tradition. The idea of the government just making
someone an officer, and the troops automatically following him, does not go
down well with Afghans. Traditionally, if someone demonstrated a talent for
combat leadership, they would build a reputation, and gradually become an amir
(combat leader). The foreign training teams are taught this, and quickly try to
determine if the Afghan battalion and brigade commanders they are supporting
have the right stuff to command, and, if they do, try to get him up to speed,
and into a few successful operations. The troops love a winner, and loyalty,
confidence and competence follows.
gripe among the trainers is that there is no central clearing house for lessons
learned as trainers. There are some email groups and message boards where
information is exchanged informally (at least among English speaking officers
and NCOs), but nothing official. There are some independent efforts to collect
all this information. What has been learned creating the Afghan Army (and National
Police) can be useful for those doing the same in other undeveloped countries.