Afghanistan: February 17, 2005

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Training of troops for the new Afghan army has gone better than expected. Thus the army will reach full strength by the end of 2006, almost a year ahead of schedule. There are already about 20,000 trained Afghan troops in service. And new battalions are being trained six at a time. It took a while for effective recruiting methods to be developed, and for the army to earn a reputation as a worthy occupation. In the past, the Afghan army had been a corrupt organization that treated the troops, and Afghans in general, badly. The new Afghan army is a professional force, and probably one of the least corrupt organizations in the government. NATO and American advisors work with unit commanders to deal with warlords, and situations that could develop into corrupt activities (like officers taking payoffs to allow warlords to run drugs or otherwise break the law). The Afghan troops, and their distinctive green berets, are not feared in the countryside, as was the old army. This has made recruiting easier. Parents are not as opposed to their sons joining. The army is no longer seen as a government sponsored gang of bandits. 

The recruiting has gone so well of late, that American trainers want to form intelligence, engineer and commando units. These outfits require bright, and educated, recruits. It is believed that enough qualified recruits are available to form these specialized units now. 

 

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