Can they become a professional Army?:
“It will not be until 2014, perhaps 2016, that the Afghan government can provide essential services to the country, says the CSIS report. In the meantime, it will be up to the military to fill the void. As it stands, the army is already delivering aid, health care, infrastructure and governance, not to mention police work.”
and a best case scenario?:
‘This is not necessarily a problem, said former Assistant Secretary of Defense Bing West in a 2010 New York Times op-ed. West argues that as the United States begins to withdraw from Afghanistan, the business of nation-building should bypass the ineffectual and possibly corrupt Presidential Palace and be placed squarely in the lap of the military. “Although isolating Mr. Karzai will strike many as a giant step backwards, the truth is that we don’t have a duty to impose democracy on Afghanistan”, he wrote. “[A] diminished Hamid Karzai can be left to run a sloppy government, with a powerful, American-financed Afghan military insuring that the Taliban do not take over.’
As our author points out, this would be the current model in troubled Pakistan. It likely serves Obama’s political interest, and arguably the national interest, to try and make the Afghan Army look good about now, despite their capabilities.
The Taliban are biding their time. Karzai is of questionable leadership capability (manic-depressive), and leads a quite corrupt government with roots in tribal loyalties, nepotism, graft (less morally troublesome for many if taken from an occupying army), and the extreme poverty of a country torn by war for generations. The border with the FATA region of Pakistan is porous, and many of the same basic conditions on the ground haven’t changed much. The American interest is still in dismantling conditions that led to this region being a base of operations for terror attacks. European and coalitional support is still mild, and politically weak.
There are a lot of good reasons to be skeptical…and mostly pessimistic.
Addition: A U.S. helicopter was shot down and 31 U.S. special operations troops killed on their way to a mission in Eastern Afghanistan today. R.I.P.
Related On This Site: From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan…Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’…Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”…Monday Quotations-Henry Kissinger