I read things like this in the news and I wonder, I really do.
Let's table for a moment the questions of "What-the-hell-are-we-doing-in-central-Asia-and-why?" and just look at this issue of the formation of an Afghan National Army in the light of our most recent successful experience with army-building.
I'm talking about the work that was done in the highlands of Vietnam in the 1960's. According to Jim Dunnigan's "Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War" the CIA first made contact with the ethnic tribes ("montagnards" or just "'yards") living in the western mountains of South Vietnam in October 1961.
"By the end of 1963..." Dunnigan says, "...some 674 Green Berets...were working with the Montagnards, of whom some 40,000-60,000 were under arms."
Got that? Two years after the first CIA mission, roughly a battalion's worth of SF teams had more than two division's worth of tribesmen in the field.
And these guys weren't the "never-fired-and-only-dropped-once" Marvin the ARVN types, either. The montagnards routinely cleaned the clocks of the NVA units they encountered in their home mountains. They were a fighting people, they liked the hard-assed Yankee snake-eaters leading them. And, as Dunnigan puts it; "These tall, mostly-pasty-faced flatlanders came with loot and were generous with it. And all they want us to do is kill Vietnamese? Hey, what a deal."
By the U.S. government's numbers, three years later (1966) the SF teams (less than a brigade's worth - 2,500 SF) had organized about 35,000 troops into local village defense teams (CIDG), another 28,000 more into "Regional Forces" capable of reinforcing these little villes, and a brigade-size (3,000-man) "Mike Force", in effect a professional infantry unit that would maneuver against enemy field force elements.
We're talking a total of 65,000 troops in under seven years - the same amount of time its taken us to cobble together the rat-pack 70K or so that we refer to as the "Afghan National Army".
And this is out of a Montagnard population of about one million - barely a quarter of the number of Afghans we're supposedly helping into the 21st Century.
And these are Afghans. Afghans! Among the most savage fighting peoples on earth! The people who massacred an entire British army in 1842!
The fact that we can't assemble a decent fighting army of Afghans in seven years should give us pause.
Why don't they want to fight?Or is it that they just don't want to fight for "us"?