Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Training the Afghan Army

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.

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. 

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. In 2009-2011 she has made four lengthy trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the past seven years, she visited Iraq eleven times, and also wrote from Iran, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, China, and South Korea.

She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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