September 1, 2011:
By the end of the year, NATO trainers will have helped create Afghan security forces consisting of 300,000 soldiers and police. On top of that, the U.S. and NATO is shipping $2.7 billion worth of equipment to the Afghan military and police over the next eight months. This is more gear than the Afghans have received in the last eight years. Moreover, all the gear on the way is new, not second-hand, like much of the stuff already received.
The new gear includes 514 customized M1117 "mobile strike force" armored vehicles. There will be 22,000 vehicles of all types, doubling the number of vehicles sent to the Afghan security forces. There will also be a lot more radios and computers. All of this stuff is basically low tech. No jet fighters, but there are 44 more helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
President Karzai doesn’t want jets, although some of his generals do. Karzai pointed out that when the Russians left in 1988, they gave the Afghan military 700 jet aircraft. These didn’t last long. There was not enough money to buy fuel for training, and not enough skilled Afghans to maintain the planes adequately. Karzai also points out that Afghanistan cannot afford to maintain 300,000 soldiers and police by themselves. If the Americans and other Western countries cut off their aid, the Afghan government will have to disband most of the army and police units. He didn’t have to mention that much of the new equipment and weapons would then be stolen or sold off by corrupt officials. Maybe that’s why Karzai also complained that there should be more “ethnic balance” in the security forces. This is another way of saying that not enough Pushtuns are joining the security forces. Karzai is a Pushtun, as are about 40 percent of Afghans. There are twice as many Pushtuns across the border in Pakistan, where Pushtuns are 15 percent of a much larger population. While only a small minority of Afghan Pushtuns support the Taliban, all Pushtuns support their tribes, and the Pushtun people in general. In other words, the Pushtuns want their fair share of all the new weapons. Karzai, and many other Afghan leaders, fear that the flood of new weapons and military equipment will simply make another civil war more likely. That’s because the national government only exists because the tribal leaders and warlords allow it. If the massive foreign aid (which is funneled through the national government) disappears, there will be no reason to pay much attention to the central government.