There was a great article by C.J. Chivers in the NY Times earlier this week about the Afghan National Security Forces operating in Marjah.
It’s a great article NOT because it’s got great news. On the contrary. It’s great because transparency about ANA and ANP deficiencies is the first step to fixing them. Some excerpts:
Fundamental to plans for undermining the insurgency is to set up Afghan security forces — robust, competent, honest, well equipped and well led. If such forces can be created, then the plan is to hand them responsibility for the security achieved by the Army and Marines, allowing for an American withdrawal.
But the bad reputation of the Afghan police forces, in particular, along with the spotty performance of Afghan forces in Marja, suggest that the work and the spending of billions of American dollars to date had not achieved anything like the desired effects.
The Afghans in the meeting with the colonels were blunt: ‘We’re with you. We want to help you build. We will support you. But if you bring in the cops, we will fight you till death.’
Afghan soldiers … looted the 84-booth Semitay Bazaar immediately after the Marines swept through and secured it. Then the Afghan soldiers refused to stand post in defensive bunkers, or to fill sandbags as the Americans, sometimes under fire, hardened their joint outpost. Instead, they spent much of their time walking in the bazaar, smoking hashish.
Bottom line: C.J. Chivers describes the next phase of the Marjah operation perfectly: “It is a race for Afghan government competence and a contest for respect and for trust, in a place where all are in short supply.”