Q. In November of last year,
A. We're just a little under nine months old right now with NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A). Before that, we were the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, or CSTC-A, and so we actually have merged the two headquarters together. It's important that we still maintain an identity with CSTC-A, because we receive a lot of the funding from the
Q. The end strength, or size, of the Afghan army and police has been a moving target over the years. Where do the numbers stand now?
A. Our goals for
Q. I've also seen some numbers looking further out to 2013. Are those being actively considered?
A. If you look at testimony that Senator (
Q. In years past training efforts were slowed by a shortage of international advisors. In
A. The growth that we're having right now, particularly in the army, is including a number of the branch schools (that) are opening up. Nine months ago our primary mission was to produce, in the army, an infantry-centric, COIN-enabled force. In the last nine months, there's been a really dramatic change. One thing is we are coming close to finishing up the primary infantry forces and we're doing a shift in the next year to building some of the enablers: We're building a signal school, a logistic school, military police school, an intelligence school, to help fill out the capabilities in the army to include all the specials they need so they can become more self-reliant. As we open those schools and do more of their functions, it increases the requirement for more international advisers, or trainers, to assist the development in the schools, doing the curriculum, setting them up, working with the Afghans to develop the classes that are done. Based upon the build of these schools we're still roughly seven hundred short today for those trainers.
Q. Seven hundred is still a pretty significant shortfall. Is it safe to say commitments and pledges from
A. There are three categories that we look at with the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements (which spells out
Q. Significant challenges confront such rapid growth, from a lack of quality Afghan leaders to ongoing recruiting and retention. How do you overcome these roadblocks?
A. When President Obama made that speech (to West Point last year), it made a difference where there was actually a reaction (from the Afghan government) to get their recruiting numbers up and take this seriously. So we had about eight thousand recruits that came in December. That recruiting number that we'd had has stayed relatively high, historically high, since December. If you'd asked me in December would we make the goals of 134,000 with the army and 109,000 police, I would've told you I thought we could make it for the army, but we would fall short on the police. But we've met both those goals three months in advance, and that's because there's been some great improvement in terms of the recruiting.
Q. How about addressing low literacy rates?
A. In November, there were about thirteen thousand in the army and the police combined that were in voluntary literary classes. The literacy rate in the country is very low. The reported figure across the board in the country is 28 percent. We're finding that on average about 14 percent of the soldiers and police that come in are literate. That means 86 percent can't read and write at the third-grade level. What we've done is we've instituted mandatory classes for literacy in both the army and the police in their basic training. If you're going to be a police officer, you need to be able to read and write.
Q. The army is generally considered to the country's most respected institution, while the police are riddled with corruption issues, drug abuse, and internal violence. How is
Q. A recent
A. (T)hat article was anecdotal. On a force of 115,000, I'm sure there's a number that you would not be able to trust, that I wouldn't trust. But I don't think that's representative. I do think that partnering is the right answer. For example, if you're partnering with a police or an army force, we know that the number of instances for IEDs (improvised explosive devises) goes way down. That's for a number of reasons. One is because this is the environment they understand better, because they're from this area. So partnering actually makes you safer. Particularly, talking about IEDs and the risks, (Afghans) have a better view and are able to pick up what's going on. They know the people. They know who doesn't belong there. Partnering also helps to establish an international presence; it does have an impact on reducing corruption, because there's somebody else that's kind of watching and making sure things are done correctly.
I feel very safe when I'm with the Afghans, and I'm glad that the Afghan police force is around here, because they add a level of security, and they're very watchful and very mindful. I know what that (
Q. Some ordinary Afghans say that the Taliban returning to power, while not ideal, would be better than more war. Given this, how do you train an indigenous force to fight for a population that's just tired of fighting?
A. There's been thirty years of war here, and people are tired of fighting. I also think from my experience in talking to the Afghan people, that they saw what the Taliban offered, they saw what that provided, and there's really no desire to go back to that type of repression. They'd like to see
Available at Amazon.com:
- Interdependency Theory: China, India and the West
- The Dangerous Dog Days of Summer
- The Next 500 Years
- A New Plan For Nuclear Postures
- Strengthening the Political - Military Relationship
- Hydraulic Pressures: Into the Age of Water Scarcity?
- South Korea: Prosperity and Anxiety
- China Wealthy? That's Rich!
- Islamism Unveiled: From Berlin to Cairo and Back Again
- Beyond Moderates and Militants: Charting a New Course in the Middle East
- Middle East Peace Talks: Pointless Talks
- Why Israel Can't Rely on Deterrence Against Iran's Nuclear Program
- How to Handle Hamas
- Bringing Israel's Bomb Out of the Basement
- Iraq: Anxious Iraqis Look at Uncertain Future
- Iraq: U.S. Combat Troops' Departure Leaves Uncertainty in its Wake
- Iraq: A Promise Kept?
- An Unlikely Trio: Can Iran Turkey and the United States Become Allies?
- Staying Power: The U.S. Mission in Afghanistan Beyond 2011
- Long Road Ahead for Afghan Security Forces
- Afghanistan's Dirty Little Secret
- Russia's New Nobility
- Mexico Needs U.S. Help But Not Troops
- Mexico's Narco Problems Are Our Problems, and Vice Versa
- No 'I' in 'Team,' but Plenty of 'I' in India
- Afghanistan - There Can Be No Graceful Exit
- Afghanistan Timetable Remains a Factor of Uncertainty
- We Are Playing Fidel Castro's Game
- Has the Time Come to Legalize Drugs?
- Handling Tensions on the Korean Peninsula
- Richard C. Holbrooke: Pakistan Aid Inadequate
- Afghanistan Leaks Answer Few Questions
- Afghanistan & The Karzai Problem
- Afghanistan - Winds of Changing Policy
- Obama's Juggling Act in the Middle East
- Defusing Lebanon's Powder Keg
- Germany's Good Fortune Tips the Scales Against its Neighbors
- End Poverty: Export Capitalism
- Haitian Quake Hasn't Dislodged Status Quo
- Why We Go Back to Haiti
- Iraq - Mission Accomplished II
- The Fight Escalates Against Fake Drugs
- China's Coal Addiction
- Afghanistan: The Pentagon's Lost War
- Afghanistan: The Cost of Nation Building
- Afghanistan: Pentagon Papers Redux?
- Behind Iraq's Long Political Indecision
- Venezuela - Colombia Spat to Pass, Return
- Will China Rule the World?
- NATO's Future Involves More Global Partnerships
- Gloom Awaits U.S. Climate Diplomacy
- U.S. - U.K.: Difficult Duet in Afghanistan
- 'Pariah of the Pacific' Has Ham-handed Grip on Fiji
- Turkey Takes the Veil
- For Israel a Two-State Proposal Starts With Security
- Is It Too Late to Stop Iran
- The Middle East's Private Little War
- Reality and Reform for How the EU Keeps Its Peace
- Chancellor Angela Merkel's Sinking Support
- The Real Reason Why Afghanistan Is a Lost Cause
- The War Drones On
- When the 'Right War' Goes Wrong
- The Afghanistan Paradox
- Pakistan's Gambit in Afghanistan
- Obama Wasting Opportunities in Latin America
- Stopping Nuclear Proliferation Before It Starts
- Veiled Truths: The Rise of Political Islam in the West
- Steps to Stop Iran From Getting a Nuclear Bomb
- Iran: The Nuclear Containment Conundrum
- Iran: The Right Kind Of Containment
- China Is the Key to Handling Nuclear North Korea
- Coping With China's Financial Power
- What China's Currency Reform Means For Investors
- Russian-American Obstacles Overshadow Obama-Medvedev Meeting
- Russia's Courtship of Silicon Valley
- Ukrainian Blues: Viktor Yanukovych's Rise and Democracy's Fall
- Russia: Prisoners of the Caucasus
- The Afghan Challenge Is Far Tougher
- New Guard, Old Policy on Afghanistan
- Fear and Uncertainty in Afghanistan
- Afghanistan: Bribing the Enemy
- Afghanistan Poses Difficult Challenges
- Defining Success in Afghanistan
- Sad Stan, Famous Petraeus
- The Challenge of Reconciliation in Kenya
- The Tyranny of Unity in Zimbabwe
- Mexico: The New Cocaine Cowboys
- Under Santos Colombia Could Rise to the Next Level
- Autocrats' Latest Weapon: Indirect Censorship
- Latin America's Rich Should Be More Generous
- Castrocare in Crisis
(C) 2010 Foreign Affairs, September/October 2010