June 25, 2013

Is Afghanistan ready to Defend Itself?

Evidence is mixed as to the readiness of Afghanistan's Army and National Police to assume the lead in planning and fighting – with the summer combat season likely to be the first big test. 

Howard LaFranchi | Christian Science Monitor | Kabul, Afghanistan | The expression on the face of the Afghan National Army sergeant makes this much clear: He couldn't be prouder of the spanking-new, million-dollar, gun-mounted vehicle that NATO trainers are teaching him to operate.

"My main goal is to learn very well the operation of these vehicles and their guns so I can defeat our enemy," says Sgt. Nezamuddin Stanekzai as he leans out its door frame, his maroon beret adjusted to sit on his head just so. "I am ready to defend my country!" he declares, signaling two thumbs up.

Stanekzai, radiating confidence as he trained recently at the sprawling Pol-e-Charkhi army base outside Kabul, probably is ready. He is among those Afghans who tested high enough to land in the nascent Mobile Strike Force unit – a $1 billion program designed to leave Afghanistan with a top-notch rapid-reaction force

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