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Khaleej Times Online – Afghan army grapples with shortages

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/international/2009/April/international_April1532.xml&section=international

I really enjoyed reading this article because I have a lot to say about it.  So as to avoid rambling, I’m going to put this in bullet format responses as I re-read the article:

  • You have to remember that the cultural differences between the US and Afghanistan are great.  They are much more laid back and seeing them lounging and dancing about is not as strange as it would be if it were US soldiers.
  • Although their military structure is loosely based on ours (and a combo with the Soviets’) they are not the same either.  What works for us will not necessarily work for them.  First of all, Afghanistan in general is not prepared to supply its Army with the sophisticated equipment that we use.  They would not be able to support, fix, train, and sustain with it.  Keep it simple.
  • Remember that we did not have all this heavily armored vehicles and vests until about 6-8 years ago.  When we first entered Iraq, some of the humvees had canvas doors!
  • The article focuses on soldiers at a remote location.  It is no wonder that they dont have as many luxuries and comforts.  I can tell you that where I am at, all the soldiers have cold/wet weather gear, good boots, humvees, body armor, helmets and are starting to get issued M16s.
  • I agree with Hickman on his comment about immediate gratification.  I have seen some soldiers and officers in the ANA simply looking for the US to hand them things.  If we are willing to give them handouts, who are they to break their backs for it?  I really cant blame them, but it has incited them to be a little lazier in some cases.

To sum up, the article makes are great statement,

Building up and training the fledgling Afghan army is a key exit strategy for the United States and other Western powers keen to quell a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan that last year reached its deadliest yet.

But please do not compare our army which has a wealthy, developed country funding and supporting it and has been around for hundreds of years, to Afghanistan’s “fledgeling” army. We were not the same army in 1636 when Massachusetts formed the first Militia (which later became the National Guard), and we didn’t even have mentors.

Current news

Apparently to actually read any of the articles that load in my RSS reader to the right you have to register with that website.  That sucks, so I’ve changed them out for better quality Yahoo News and NY Times feeds.  Enjoy 🙂

Anyways, there has been a lot of activity in Afghanistan recently.  Recent attacks on French forces have cause more than 20 casualties.  Another attack on a major US base in the SE part of the country was haulted thanks to the help of the Air Cav, however the fact that they are increasingly more daring and attacks are more frequent, is not a good sign.

To top all that off, a long standing belief that Pakistan’s ISI (kind of like our CIA) has been aiding Al Qaeda and giving them information about coalition movement and plans.  This is possibly the cause of the recent attacks on the US and French.  source  Also, you may have heard that Pakistan President Musharraf stepped down earlier this week when it became clear that parliament meant to impeach him.  Although he gained power through a military coup, and did little to stomp out corruption, he was VERY anti-extremism, which is what led to the relationship between Pakistan and the US.  Now that he is gone, it will be very interesting to see how much bolder the ISI gets in providing intelligence support to Al Qaeda.

I cant really write much more now, so please check out some of the news.  I highly recommend Yahoo and NY Times.  Both have great coverage of Afghanistan.

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/afghanistan/index.html

http://news.yahoo.com/fc/World/Afghanistan

drilling

I’ve got drill this weekend again.  It seems that there is just enough time between drill weekend to kind of forget about the deployment and the military.  Its very different when I put the uniform on.  It’s kind of like having an alternate identity, and the switch is triggered by the uniform.  I know it happens to a lot of people in the guard.  We kind of do have to be able to switch it on and off.

Anyways, all this gets me thinking about the mobilization.  Its scary to think that there is less than 2 month before I leave.  I have a million things to do before that happens.  In a way I really just want to get there and start the deployment.  The anticipation causes so much worry and stress that it know it will be easier once I am there and can look forward to coming home instead of having it loom over my head.