11 Years and Billions later . . .
Only one of the Afghan Army's 23 brigades is battle ready
- Troops not ready. Boot camp takes a few weeks. Just what exactly have we been doing for 11 years?????
- Afghan units are still untrained, lack fuel and supplies. Some troops are using old Soviet era equipment.
Where did all the money go? The eternal question put to the fools that run government. We never get the truth . . . . voters can't handle the truth that most of our spending in Afghanistan was pissed away or stolen by Afghans and American contractors "servicing" the war effort.
The UK Guardian reports the Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps is now 17,000-strong and has managed to hold on to the main population areas in Helmand in the face of a Taliban attempt to retake lost territory and as a result the province's towns are much safer than they were a year ago.
But the ANA still cannot fight on its own. Only one of the 215th Corps' four brigades is anywhere near full battle readiness.
In fact, a Pentagon report in early December revealed that only one of the ANA's 23 brigades across the country had reached that point. The Taliban's success in infiltrating its ranks has contributed to the number of "green-on-blue", or insider attacks, in which Afghan troops turn their guns on their foreign mentors.
There were 12 such attacks in Helmand in 2012, all fatal, sawing away at the bonds of trust on which the Nato exit strategy is based reports the UK Guardian.
Even more importantly, there are early signs that the ANA may be struggling to hold the line on a critical front in the war: the ability to protect Afghan civilians from the Taliban.
- Lt. Col. Hussian Hadl's 1st Battalion recently took over the base from a French military unit, which had fuel for generators. Hadl said he has no fuel for heat or lights.
- His 700 men have 40 Humvees, he said, but half the vehicles are in the shop, awaiting parts. There's barely fuel for 20 of them. The battalion has just three heavy machine guns, he says, and no rounds for its Russian-made mortars.
- "I'm not worried about the Americans leaving. I'm not worried about the Taliban," Lt. Col. Hadl said. "I'm worried we won't have enough weapons and fuel to fight on our own."
- One brigade is using equipment provided in the 1980s by Russia.
For the 2,700 soldiers in Col. Aamal's 3rd Brigade of the 201st Corps, the fight against the Islamist militants who once ran Afghanistan is largely their own. Aamal described three recent combat operations he said were planned and carried out by his men, with minimal advice from Western forces reports the Los Angeles Times.
But he also pointed to 27 trucks that sit idle on the base, waiting for replacement batteries. Humvees, parked in a line, need new brake pads. There is not enough fuel for heat. He blames the Afghan Defense Ministry and the coalition forces.
Voters can't handle the truth
Afghanistan and Iraq were disasters the poured countless billions down corrupt rat holes.
Soldiers of the Afghanistan National Army Lead a Route Clearance Mission
"How can my soldiers perform under these conditions?" Aamal asked. "Some of them can't survive like this, and they just walk away and quit."
American officers have said that much of the equipment is stolen or sold by ministry officials, or by Afghan field commanders.
The latest UN figures show that the Taliban are now responsible for 84% of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, while the government and its foreign allies are responsible for only 6% (10% are unattributable). And the data for the August-October period shows a dramatic spike in those killings, up 28% from the same period last year, suggesting that ordinary Afghans are becoming more vulnerable as the Afghan army takes responsibility for protecting them.
Brigadier General Ghulam Farouq Parwani, deputy commander of the 215th Corps and a 30-year veteran of Afghanistan's many wars, insists his men can handle the Taliban threat on their own after US and British combat troops leave Helmand by the end of 2014. But only if they are given the tools for the job.
"If the promises made to the ANA are fulfilled, the Taliban will never regroup," Farouq said. "The only thing we lack here is equipment. We need artillery support.
"We have been promised a mobile strike force of 800 men with up-armour [shaped to deflect road mines] and advanced weaponry. And we need our own aviation, because sometimes our coalition partners are busy."