Training the Afghan Army

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Learning rifle basics

One main reason I'm in Afghanistan is to better understand the U.S. strategy behind the dispatch of 21,000 new troops to Afghanistan.

I've talked to the Afghan Defense and Interior Ministers, and to top U.S. generals. And I made a trip to the Kabul Military Training Center, a facility established in the 1950's and used under the Afghan monarchy, the Soviet occupation, Taliban rule, and now by NATO forces to train a new Afghan army. The training center sits on 20,000 acres of scrubby desert-like terrain ringed by mountains, and the day I visit it is cold, overcast and rainy.

U.S. troops are meant to stabilize the southern part of the country where Taliban insurgents are making big inroads, but the Afghan grunts and officer candidates who are training here will determine how fast the Americans can leave. Right now there is a 40 % shortfull of NATO trainers, and a severe lack of equipment for the Afgan trainees. Officer candidates have high school educations, but 70 % of the grunts are illiterate.

Still, the trainees seem enthusiastic and certain of their mission: defeating Taliban whom, they say, are trying to destroy their country.