"In every engagement between the Taliban and one front-line American Marine unit, the operation has been led in almost every significant sense by American officers and troops. They organized the forces for battle, transported them in American vehicles and helicopters from Western-run bases into Taliban-held ground, and have been the primary fighting force each day.
The Afghan National Army, or A.N.A., has participated. At the squad level it has been a source of effective, if modestly skilled, manpower. Its soldiers have shown courage and a willingness to fight.
Afghan soldiers have also proved, as they have for years, to be more proficient than Americans at searching Afghan homes and identifying potential Taliban members — two tasks difficult for outsiders to perform.
By all other important measures, though — from transporting troops, directing them in battle and coordinating fire support to arranging modern communications, logistics, aviation and medical support — the mission in Marja has been a Marine operation conducted in the presence of fledgling Afghan Army units, whose officers and soldiers follow behind the Americans and do what they are told."
The little story at the end of this article about a US Marine giving an Afghan soldier a can of Red Bull is illustrative of what the present state of the Afghan National Army really is.
Armies conform to certain basic human principles involving leadership. All armies. One of the most important is that the troops must believe that the officers are not exploiting them for their own benefit. Any force in which the troops feel exploited will not be effective.
The Afghan army has a long way to go. It takes a long time to make soldiers out of people for whom the cultural model is alien.
it would have been better to make use of them as tribal militias. pl