Forces: Afghanistan Thinks Much Bigger

Archives

December 7, 2007: Afghanistan is going to expand its army to about 200,000, if it can get foreign allies to donate enough money and trainers. The current army is expected to complete its training by the end of next year, when it will reach its planned strength of 70,000. There will also be a national police force of 82,000. Previously, the largest peacetime army Afghanistan ever had was in the late 1970s, when a Russian trained force of 90,000 (with over a thousand armored vehicles) was raised. This did not last, as a civil war broke out, and the Russians invaded in late 1979. A year later, most of the army had rebelled or deserted. When the Russians left in 1989, they had rebuilt the Afghan army to 45,000 troops. That force disappeared in the next five years, as the nation descended into civil war. The Taliban won that war, but never had a standing force of more than 20,000, and these were largely militia, with one brigade of fanatical, and deadly, al Qaeda fighters.

The current army has been trained to Western standards, by NATO instructors. By Afghan standards, it's a pretty effective force. Nearly tripling its size will take several years, if the same training methods are used. The thousand or so Russian tanks the Afghans had in the late 1970s, are nearly all gone to scrap, chicken coops, or roadside reminders of the Russian invasion. The Afghans are reequipping with Cold War surplus German Leopard tanks. The air force is shopping around for cheap fighters, and counter-insurgency aircraft. The Afghans are receiving a lot of Cold War surplus Russian helicopters from Eastern Europe and Russia.

The Afghans want a larger force to deal with the Taliban insurrection, the growing power of the drug gangs, and possible trouble with Pakistan or Iran.

 


Article Archive

Forces: Current 2020 2019 2018 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close