Saturday, July 02, 2022
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Nov 9

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, November 09, 2011 3:33 AM 

Dementia advances in Afghanistan, courtesy the US taxpayer, who spent about $12 billion on training Afghans between October 2010 and September 2011. Not that it stopped there: $11 billion is pledged for the year ahead through September 2012.

Just think how many perfectly gorgeous Standard Poodles you could train for $23 billion dollars. And the world would be a better place....

On a recent graduation day for over 1,000 Afghan army soldiers, Reuters reports the alarming thoughts of Amlaqullah Patyani,  the Afghan general in charge of all Afghan training.

Surveying his new soldiers, Patyani said:

"We have no clue how to operate the weapons that NATO gives us. And even if we did, will the weapons keep coming after 2014?" ...

This is not a joke, not a satire. It's the gigantic Afghani$tan $candal, but it's dying alone, deprived of  media oxygen in the tabloid atmosphere dominated by Herman Cain accusers and moral turpitude in the Penn State Football office.

One example given by recruits is the complex computer system used to operate Stryker armored fighting vehicles that cost around $4 million each.

Many new recruits assigned to master the system lack basic numeral skills and are unable to read the Latin script used inside.

But NATO is racing against the clock to train Afghanistan's police and army forces expected to reach 350,000-strong in order to take over fighting in an increasingly violent war, a project seen as crucial for the country to battle insurgents on its own. ...

What time is it when the clock strikes 13?

But with all the money, and over 130,000 foreign troops in the country, the mission is missing hundreds of trainers.

The 1,810-strong training force says it has commitments for another 510 troops "in the near future", and is also trying to recruit another 480 mentors -- suggesting around one-third of posts are currently open.

But finding the right skills has almost nothing to do with how much money there is or how many soldiers are in the country, NATO training mission officials say.

Air force trainers are especially needed, as are finding volunteers or spare personnel with the patience and other skills needed to mold raw and sometimes illiterate recruits into military professionals.

No problem.

But senior U.S. military officials admit that money has not always been spent in the wisest ways.

"We have received an awful lot of money from the U.S. government. We need to use it differently now," said U.S. Army Major General Peter Fuller, deputy commander for programs and resources within the NATO training mission.

That would be the same US general who was recently fired for voicing his frustration that Hamid Karzai said, among other things, that he would support Pakistan in a war with the USA. Any peep from the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department on Karzai's latest outrage?

Another U.S. official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the mission was buying up high-tech equipment to satisfy Washington, while more basic needs were ignored.

The mismatch between skills and high-tech equipment has even prompted Afghan President Hamid Karzai to make a plea for a focus on sustainable training.

"This could get problematic," said Major General Aminullah Karim, who oversees the army's education and training.

"We need the training to be completely Afghan-led and a success. And there must be enough NATO mentors for this," he told Reuters at the sprawling Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) just outside the capital.

Isn't "completely Afghan-led" training and "enough NATO mentors" a contradiction?

Never mind. Wonder how much "sprawling" cost?

NATO and Afghan officials envision the 350,000 strong force as being roughly divided equally between the army and police, though analysts say the police are becoming a paramilitary force who do not protect civilians from the scourge of daily crime.

Longer term, there are questions about how much the West will stump up for Afghanistan's army. The Afghan government hopes vast copper and iron ore mines will one day pay its bills, but they are in very early stages of development and will not bear fruit for years.

Should be US or even NATO property until accounts are paid in full, plus an endowment to care for wounded warriors in perpetuity.

Afghanistan's Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said in October that a full Afghan national security force including army and police would cost about $5 billion a year.

But sources later said that Western powers are contemplating funding a security force smaller than the envisaged 350,000 men, as they grapple with shrinking government budgets at home.

The scenario Afghanistan's senior generals face now is not entirely new. The Soviet Union's exit strategy in its 1980s war was also to train Afghan forces.

The Americans are acutely aware of the comparison to their Cold War foe, said U.S. Army General William Caldwell as he traveled aboard a helicopter on the outskirts of Kabul.

Below he eyed the sandy Soviet-built KMTC training ground strewn with derelict and rusted troop carriers and wreckage from the war which lost the Soviet Union 15,000 soldiers. Three years after Moscow stopped fighting in 1989, its training was halted.

"The Soviet Union built a great air force and army which was very well-equipped. But a few years later, it collapsed," said Caldwell, who has overseen all NATO training in Afghanistan for the past two years.

Caldwell said Moscow failed because its training never transitioned into being Afghan-led, eventually paving the way for the Taliban's rise to power in 1996.

Hey, how about Karzai? Sure, he'll lead the Afghan army against the USA -- but it won't matter because they can't run the tanks and guns we give them, anyway.

Now, that's a sneaky strategy.

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