Saturday, November 06, 2010

That Other Afghan Enemy - Desertion

As Western forces near the decade mark in their campaign in Afghanistan, the measure of their achievements has to be the Afghan National Army they've been training and equipping to take over so our troops can leave.  So how's that going anyway?  Yeah, well....   not quite so good as you might expect.

The Allies took just four years to raise land, air and sea forces to defeat Japan but in ten years we haven't managed to form an Afghan army capable of defending its central government against the Talibs.

Today's Sydney Morning Herald has a report about Afghan soldiers deserting in the belief that the Taliban will retake their country just as soon as the Americans leave.  The deserters apparently want to get out to avoid being treated as traitors by the Taliban.

But that's just a newspaper account isn't it?  Well, what about this item from British Forces News that reveals an astonishing 23% annual desertion rate among the ANA:

It doesn't look as though there are many Afghans willing to lay down their lives to defend the Karzai government.   Unfortunately, we've never given them a government worth dying for.


crf said...

It astounds and shocks me that many Afghan people will take a salary during their training, but then decide at the time of their deployment that they don't actually want to fight against their own countrymen and coreligionists in a civil war. Especially when the side we westerners wish them to fight on is led by such a great man as Hamid Karzai: who wouldn't want to fight for his noble Afgan ideals of corruption, nepotism, drug-running and toadying to western occupiers?

The Mound of Sound said...

The Afghan National Army is screwed up on so many levels. In the Pashtun south the ANA deploys Tajik units. The Tajiks and Pashtun have been bitter enemies for a very long time. But Pashtun units, such as they are, are considered ineffective in the south.

My guess is that, when the U.S. finally bails, there'll be something approaching an Afghan National Army that will waste little time breaking apart into traditional, ethnic militias. That is a more natural fit for a supposed country rent along sharp ethnic lines - Pashtun, Uzbek, Tajik, Hazara, Turkmen, Baloch...

Imagine how Albertans would feel to find their province occupied and controlled by Quebec units of the Canadian army?