One of the major objectives of the USA and NATO in Afghanistan, according to official statements, is training of an efficient Afghan army and police, which after the departure of coalition forces could control the country and prevent another civil war. The Afghan President Hamid Karzai repeatedly declared that the forces of the Afghan army would be able to independently cope with the situation already by 2014. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed Karzai’s words, although he admitted that before then the coalition forces have to cope with serious difficulties in training and education of Afghan soldiers.
The main problem is discipline, or rather its absence in ranks of the Afghan army and police. Problems mostly occur with recruits, who come to the army too soon from boot camps where they receive military training. But the army can only be reinforced by them. Its strength has recently increased to 134 thousand people, the police numbers 109 thousand more. By the end of 2011, the army forces have to reach 171,600 soldiers and police 134,000. One can not definitely rely on senior conscript either: many of those who is now fighting for the regular army forces, earlier had acted on the enemy’s side.
American trainers are persistently trying to train Afghan soldiers living near the American military personnel in almost all military bases. But attempts at cooperation end in nothing too often. Thus, during recent talks between the Afghan and American commanders on the base to the west of Kandahar, the Americans tried to plan an operation, which would help to push the Talibs from a neighboring village, and hoped to initiate an attack in the next few days. Because of disagreement between the Afghan army officers the attack had to be postponed until the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Drug consumption which is quite widespread among the Afghans does not improve discipline. Thus, in April 2009 the Afghan border guard arranged a party with the use of opium. During the holiday a single gunshot was allegedly made and a police officer was shot. Soldiers of the coalition reported they did not know who was shooting.
Another report, which became available to the public, said that a soldier had a shot from a gun at his sergeant during a dispute in the province of Gelment. NATO officers said that the frequency, with which the Afghan soldiers or police are shooting at each other or people on the spot, scares them. Only for the first six months 2010 there were at least 70 incidents. It is not infrequent when the Afghan military attack the coalition soldiers. Thus, last month straight on the base an Afghan soldier shot two US contract soldiers and one Afghan soldier, following which he was shot himself. The cause of shooting was a prosy quarrel.
When forming the Afghan power structures the overseas teachers fail to take one thing into account - the national factor. Most of the officers of the Afghan army are ethnic Tajiks from Northern provinces of the country. Whereas the population of Southern and Southeastern provinces consists of Pashtuns, from which the Talibs came. Between these two ethnic groups a long-standing confrontation exists, sometimes turning into hatred. This is reinforced by the residents’ attitudes toward police and military, which are considered in Afghanistan to be a little better than thieves and drug addicts. The latter reciprocate their feelings.
Thus the coalition soldiers have recently had to see to fire exercises by their Afghan colleagues. Instead, they saw the Afghan soldiers being about to shoot down the village, which was often used by the Talibs as a springboard for attack on the US military bases. So long as for some time there were no attacks by the Talibs from here, shooting down of the village would mean just killing of local residents. It took much time and efforts for NATO soldiers to persuade the Afghans to stop the attack.
Afghanistan’s future according to the situation in the national army and police seems to be very hazy. According to the Afghan policemen themselves, the local people would cut off their heads as soon as the coalition forces have left Afghanistan. Such an attitude is indicative of NATO forces’ incapability to radically change the situation. There's less time before the beginning of the withdrawal of troops from this country, and the question of what will happen in Afghanistan after NATO remains unanswered.