Less than an Afghan Army

This video, from the Guardian, comes courtesy of our friend Noah Shachtman at Danger Room. The video shows the challenge in relying on the Afghan Army to stand up quickly against the Taliban as US forces stand down. Noah’s comment must be restated: “Obviously, there are plenty of units that are more professional. But this isn’t the first time red-eyed Afghan troops have been caught on tape.”

Of course this is all anecdotal, but still pertinent. During my time with US Military and Police Training Teams in Iraq, I never saw such behavior. Occasionally I saw troops that were green or frightened, but I never saw, or heard of, the drug use and blatant lack of discipline that were on display in this video. Yet the only time I was exposed to Afghan police in Kandahar, while embedded with the Canadian Army, I witnessed a group go up on a rooftop at a police station and smoke hashish while a major operation was underway.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • MalangJan says:

    ANA is most underestimated force. Once it has the complete setup i.e Tanks, artiliary, Air Force, & above all respect of Afghans, it is more than capable of defending Afghanistan. As far as smoking Hash is concerned, Taliban also smoke hashish. I have seen with my own eyes very pious mullas smoking hash. It is consider bad but not evil. In my village in North West Frontier many people smoke hashih. They are called Chersi. They are accepted norm, police smoke it, teacher smoke it & to tell you the truth it is not very bad. It is as dangerious as tobaco smoking. I know people who has been smoking hash from youth to old age with normal span of life of 80 years or more.

  • Rosario says:

    Hello Bill,
    We sincerely hope the afghan army can find more motivated recruits in the near future. There is longer version of this report and it was much worse than this one, originally published on y-tube under “hashish army” about nine months ago. The US soldier in charge would describe how these troops stoned under fire would aimlessly expend all their ammunition, then taliban would counter attack. The longer report also documents corrupt local afghan officials letting suspected taliban go free so besides training the army there is political housecleaning required.

  • T Ruth says:

    Now i know why they call it Lucky Strike!
    On a more serious note, gosh you realize what a complex project this whole thing is…

  • BKM says:

    I have read many who consider illiteracy to be a main obstacle to rebuilding in Afghanistan. (for example: //traversa.typepad.com/afghanistan_without_a_clu/2007/03/index.html , search for post by Capt Mike Toomer) The literacy rate in Afghanistan in 2001 was estimated around 13%. For the last eight years schools have been open with around 66% attendance, which means that sometime between now and the next four years there should be a “surge”

  • AMac says:

    A review by Randall Parker of Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason’s article in ForeignPolicy. Obama Afghanistan Strategy Doomed To Failure. Worth reading, to understand a pessimistic perspective. Which is more realistic–hopes that the ANA can “stand up,” or fears that the US and NATO are rerunning the Soviet strategy?
    A comment to the post contains a link to this 35-minute British documentary of the Soviet experience. Sobering.


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