The Difficulty of Training Local Security Forces

The main pillary of American strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq is to train local security personnel so that they can eventually secure their countries without US assistance.  But such a task is very difficult, especially in Afghanistan.

The following are major obstacles to success when it comes to building up Afghan and Iraqi security forces: widespread negligence; a dearth of trainers; equipment shortages; corruption; insurgent infiltration; a lack of competent foreign NCOs; illiteracy (in Afghanistan); and cultural differences.

Below are links to articles that go into greater detail about the challenges facing US and NATO forces when it comes to training foreign recruits:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/world/asia/06training.html?hpw

http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/training-and-trusting-local-forces/

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/10/21/canadian_officer_yes_to_mcchrystal_and_heres_why

The Iraqi forces that the US have trained in Iraq will soon be put to the ultimate test when American troops leave the country in 2011, although unresolved political issues, rather than military incompetence, might be to blame if instability increases dramatically after the US withdraws.

There is no timetable when it comes to leaving Afghans responsible for their own security.  Many analysts seem overly optimistic about the prospects of short-to-medium-term success in terms of augmenting the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.  It may require decades of training efforts to enable them to operate effectively and independently, and there is no guarantee that they will be able to secure their country even after that amount of time has elapsed.  The Obama administration will have to take this into consideration as it debates whether to send 40,000 more soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan to combat the growing  Taliban insurgency.

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