Tag Archive: Afghan National Army


What Germany Left Behind: A Feeling of Abandonment in North Afghanistan

By Nicola Abé

Photo Gallery: An Empty Base in Afghanistan Photos
Joel van Houdt/ DER SPIEGEL

Six months ago, Germany’s military withdrew from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Since then, regional security has eroded and many of those left behind feel abandoned. Some say that the departure came too soon.

Captain Faridoon Hakimi is sitting next to an enormous barbecue once used by the Germans to grill sausage, munching on an almond and squinting. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and the midday sun is blazing down onto the former German military camp in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Next to him stands a solitary sign in the German language indicating the location of a certain “Büro Baumlade.”

It has been six months since Hakimi’s friends and allies from Germany left the camp. All of the parking slots for helicopters and armored vehicles are empty. The white blimp, which once held cameras aloft in order to monitor the camp’s immediate surroundings, no longer floats in the sky above.”We don’t need reconnaissance,” says Hakimi, 32, the new camp commander who oversees the Afghan National Army troops stationed there. “We have our eyes.” The blimp, he says smiling, was a waste of money anyway. Hakimi wears a carefully trimmed beard — and rubber sandals.

His eyes shift to the horizon where the mountains are slowly turning green, indicating spring’s approach. Hakimi knows that the green also means the Taliban will soon be back.

For 10 years, Germany was responsible for the province of Kunduz as part of its role in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It was the first real war the Bundeswehr, as Germany’s military is known, participated in, and Berlin’s aims were lofty indeed. German development experts were to help extend rights to women, democracy was to be fostered and the economy was to grow significantly. Billions of euros were made available — and the blood of German soldiers was spilled. Kunduz was a place of great sacrifice.

Until Oct. 6, 2013. On that day, Germany handed over the camp to Afghanistan.

‘Too Soon’

“They ran away,” croaks the deputy police chief for the Kunduz province in his office and gestures dismissively. “They simply ran away. It was too soon.”

“It was too soon. It was like an escape.” One can hear almost exactly the same thing from the mouths of German soldiers, some of whom even compare the Bundeswehr’s departure with that of the Americans from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. “If there is one thing the Bundeswehr is really good at, it’s retreating,” is a sentiment that can often be heard in the government quarter in Berlin these days.

What, though, did the Germans really manage to accomplish in Kunduz and what did the 25 Germans killed in the region die for? What did all the money buy? What remains of the mission? Berlin would rather not provide an answer to these questions: A complete evaluation of the Afghanistan engagement is not on the agenda.

But there are answers to be found in the Kunduz Province itself. The closer one gets to the former German camp, the emptier the roads become. There are no trees to block one’s view of the far-away horizon; occasionally, a burned out car or oil drum lies on the shoulder of the road. The pizza delivery service once patronized by the Germans has closed its doors. A few uniformed soldiers are rolling out barbed wire at the camp’s entrance. “We are here to guard the buildings,” says Said Muyer, 25, of the Afghan police. He says he is essentially in charge, adding that the real commander hardly ever makes an appearance.

The road passes by empty guard houses and torn open sandbags on the way into a ghost town of broad roads, vacant barracks and open ground where helicopters once took off and landed. It seems like a settlement of aliens who stayed for a time but then left after realizing that the planet was inhospitable — despite the fitness studios, bars and the big German barbecue.

Some 2,000 soldiers were once stationed in the camp, but there are few relics of their presence among the ruins: an aluminum can that once contained processed meat, packages of “Exotic” drink mix and a few slices of whole-grain bread.

“They only left garbage behind,” says Muyer, kicking a container of potato goulash. “We don’t eat stuff like that.” He rattles the door leading into the mess hall, inside of which the tables and chairs are neatly stacked. “Everything is locked up,” he says. Muyer says that the refrigerators were already gone by the time he arrived, sold in the town market.

 

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Published on Apr 3, 2013

Reporter Ben Anderson joins Allied troops as they prepare to hand over to Afghan forces next year. But he finds the Afghan army and police forces – who are taking over when the British and Americans leave – poorly trained and lacking the resources needed to fight the Taliban. Worse, he uncovers evidence that the police themselves are committing horrendous crimes under the noses of Allied forces

Report Finds Afghan Military Shrinking Not Growing

May 02, 2013

  
afghan army march 600x400

A U.S. government watchdog overseeing the Afghanistan reconstruction found the U.S. led effort to recruit, train and field the Afghan National Security Forces is about 20,000 troops below its stated goal of 352,000.

The U.S. led coalition force failed to meet the goal of 352,000 ANSF personnel by October 2012, although the Defense Department reported that it reached the goal of recruiting 352,000 ANSF personnel. These personnel are spread across the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and the Afghan Air Force.

In fact, the ANSF end strength is shrinking, not growing. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found that the number of personnel shrunk by about 4,000 troops and policemen between March 2012 and February 2013.

Inspectors noted how the U.S. led coalition has continually moved the date in which it hopes to reach the stated end strength. Defense Department officials have recently told SIGAR officials the goal is now to train, equip and field the personnel in the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police by December 2013, and the Afghan National Air Force by 2017.

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Afghanistan Is Not Ready to Take Over

A special inspector general discloses that as U.S. forces head for the exit, the Pentagon has not met its goal for enlarging the Afghan force left behind.
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An Afghan National Army soldier practices drills at an outpost in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on January 29, 2013. (Andrew Burton/Reuters)

Since the United States first sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001, a signature goal of the war has been to increase the size of Afghan national security forces and give their members the skills to vanquish domestic terrorist groups and other security threats on their own.

But as the Obama administration prepares to pull 34,000 U.S. troops out of the country by February and most of the remaining troops by the end of 2014, estimates of the size of the Afghan force trained to take over this lead security role have suddenly grown fuzzy and possibly unreliable.

The Afghan National Army “did not yet have the ability to plan and conduct sustained operations without U.S. and Coalition support.”

A new report this week by the government’s top watchdog over U.S. spending in Afghanistan casts doubt on whether the U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government has met a goal set in 2011 of enlisting and training a total of 352,000 Afghan security personnel by October 2012. Pentagon officials have said that target was meant to strike a balance between what is needed and what America and its allies can deliver in concert with the Afghan government.

The White House declared two months ago, in conjunction with the President’s State of the Union address, that the goal had been attained. Afghan “forces are currently at a surge strength of 352,000, where they will remain for at least three more years, to allow continued progress toward a secure environment in Afghanistan,” it said.

But on Tuesday, Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko challenged this rosy assessment, which White House officials said was based on data supplied by the Pentagon.

“The goal to ‘train and field’ 352,000 Afghan National Security Forces by last October was not met.” Sopko said in his latest quarterly report. Instead, as of Feb. 18, the number of personnel in the Afghan National Army, National Police and Air Force totaled 332,753, or about 20,000 fewer, according to data he said he collected from the Coalition-led transition command in Kabul.

Sopko said Afghan troop and police strength is actually declining, not rising – belying a longstanding goal of the U.S. intervention. There are now 4,700 fewer personnel than a year ago, he noted, drawing on the same data that the Pentagon routinely uses.

The discrepancy between the force size the White House has claimed and what the Afghans have actually been able to field is not a trivial one, Sopko’s report suggested. “Accurate and reliable accounting for ANSF personnel is necessary to ensure that U.S. funds that support the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] are used for legitimate and eligible costs,” it said.

As a result, the discrepancy has triggered a wider audit by his organization into “the extent to which DOD [the Department of Defense] reviews and validates the information collected” from Afghan officials, Sopko said in the report. It will broadly assess “the reliability and usefulness” of what the Afghans – and the U.S. government – say about the force’s size.

In a statement to the Center for Public Integrity, Sopko explained that “we are not implying that anyone is manipulating data. We are raising a concern that we don’t have the right numbers. We appreciate how difficult it is to get the correct numbers — but we need accurate numbers because we’re using those numbers to pay ANSF salaries, supply equipment and so forth.”

The financial stakes behind the numbers are huge. Sopko’s report says Congress has appropriated more than $51 billion so far “to build, equip, train and sustain the Afghan National Security Forces.”

But U.S. officials and watchdog groups have previously raised alarms about the existence of “ghost” personnel in the Afghan forces, whose salaries are still funded by Western aid but who quit the units to which they are assigned. The annual attrition rate for the Afghan army is nearly 30 percent, according to U.S. military commanders, provoking an enormous churn in the ranks that complicates accurate record-keeping.

Part of the problem, according to Sopko’s report, is that Western officials have allowed “the Afghan forces to report their own personnel strength numbers,” which are based on hand-written ledgers in “decentralized, unlinked and inconsistent systems.” The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, which oversees the training effort, reported last year “there was no viable method of validating personnel numbers,” the report added.

But U.S. officials have added to the confusion by adopting a new definition of what it means to be a member of the Afghan security force, loosening its terminology in a way that enlarges the ranks to include all those “recruited” rather than those actually trained and field-ready.

For example, the Defense Department’s so-called Section 1230 reports, which track the progress of the war, including efforts to build an effective Afghan security force, said in April 2012 that “the ANSF are ahead of schedule to achieve the October 2012 end-strength of 352,000, including subordinate goals of 195,000 soldiers and 157,000 police.”

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Government auditor challenges White House account of Afghanistan security

A special inspector general discloses that as US forces head for the exit, the Pentagon has not met its goal for enlarging the Afghan force left behind

By Richard H.P. Sia

20 hours, 20 minutes ago Updated: 14 hours, 28 minutes ago

Afghan National Army recruits practice a house clearing during training exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Dar Yasin/AP

Since the United States first sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001, a signature goal of the war has been to increase the size of Afghan national security forces and give their members the skills to vanquish domestic terrorist groups and other security threats on their own.

But as the Obama administration prepares to pull 34,000 U.S. troops out of the country by February and most of the remaining troops by the end of 2014, estimates of the size of the Afghan force trained to take over this lead security role have suddenly grown fuzzy and possibly unreliable.

A new report this week by the government’s top watchdog over U.S. spending in Afghanistan casts doubt on whether the U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government has met a goal set in 2011 of enlisting and training a total of 352,000 Afghan security personnel by October 2012. Pentagon officials have said that target was meant to strike a balance between what is needed and what America and its allies can deliver in concert with the Afghan government.

The White House declared two months ago, in conjunction with the President’s State of the Union address, that the goal had been attained. Afghan “forces are currently at a surge strength of 352,000, where they will remain for at least three more years, to allow continued progress toward a secure environment in Afghanistan,” it said.

But on Tuesday, Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko challenged this rosy assessment, which White House officials said was based on data supplied by the Pentagon.

“The goal to ‘train and field’ 352,000 Afghan National Security Forces by last October was not met.” Sopko said in his latest quarterly report. Instead, as of Feb. 18, the number of personnel in the Afghan National Army, National Police and Air Force totaled 332,753, or about 20,000 fewer, according to data he said he collected from the Coalition-led transition command in Kabul.

Sopko said Afghan troop and police strength is actually declining, not rising – belying a longstanding goal of the U.S. intervention. There are now 4,700 fewer personnel than a year ago, he noted, drawing on the same data that the Pentagon routinely uses.

The discrepancy between the force size the White House has claimed and what the Afghans have actually been able to field is not a trivial one, Sopko’s report suggested. ”Accurate and reliable accounting for ANSF personnel is necessary to ensure that U.S. funds that support the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] are used for legitimate and eligible costs,” it said.

As a result, the discrepancy has triggered a wider audit by his organization into “the extent to which DOD [the Department of Defense] reviews and validates the information collected” from Afghan officials, Sopko said in the report. It will broadly assess “the reliability and usefulness” of what the Afghans – and the U.S. government – say about the force’s size.

 

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Afghan policewoman kills coalition contractor in Kabul: NATO

 

Afghan policemen stand guard at the site of an incident inside the compound where a U.S. advisor was killed in Kabul, December 24, 2012. REUTERS-Omar Sobhani
Afghan policemen stand guard at the site of an incident inside the compound where a U.S. advisor was killed in Kabul, December 24, 2012. REUTERS-Omar Sobhani
U.S. security personnel escorts a U.S. convoy to Kabul police headquarters in Kabul December 24, 2012. REUTERS-Mohammad Ismail

By Mirwais Harooni and Hamid Shalizi

KABUL

(Reuters) – An Afghan woman wearing a police uniform shot dead on Monday a civilian contractor working for Western forces in the police chief’s compound in Kabul, NATO said.

The incident is likely to raise troubling questions about the direction of an unpopular war.

It appeared to be the first time that a woman member of Afghanistan’s security forces carried out such an attack.

There were conflicting reports about the victim.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a U.S. police adviser was killed by an Afghan policewoman. Then ISAF said in a statement only that it was a “contracted civilian employee” who was killed.

Mohammad Zahir, head of the police criminal investigation department, described the incident as an “insider attack” in which Afghan forces turn their weapons on Western troops they are supposed to be working with. He initially said the victim was a U.S. soldier.

 

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Nato forces ‘attack Afghan health clinic’

Aid group Swedish Committee for Afghanistan says Nato and Afghan troops damaged its building and used it as jail

    French soldiers in Wardak province, Afghanistan, where the health clinic was attacked by Nato troops

    French soldiers in Afghanistan’s Wardak province, where the health clinic was attacked and taken over by Nato troops. Photograph: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

    Nato forces stormed into a clinic in central Afghanistan, damaging doors, windows and medical equipment, before using it as a jail and military command centre, in violation of the Geneva conventions, according to the aid group that runs the facility.

    Nato and Afghan troops were dropped off by helicopters late one October evening and headed straight to the clinic, according to the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, which has published details of the assault on their small centre in Wardak province, a few dozen miles south-west of Kabul.

    The soldiers knocked down a wall to enter the building, damaged doors, windows, examination beds and other equipment, and detained clinical staff and civilians inside. And for the next two and a half days they brought dozens, maybe hundreds of prisoners through the clinic, using it as a jail, logistics hub and for mortar fire, contravening the Geneva conventions, which protect medical centres.

    “The protection of medical persons and facilities, and respect for their neutrality was one of the founding principles of international humanitarian law,” said Erica Gaston, a human rights lawyer and senior programme officer at the US Institute of Peace.

    “This latest incident is a serious violation … if true, it’s incredible to me that they not only raided this clinic but that [Nato] command allowed them to continue occupying it for days afterwards.”

    The takeover of the clinic was the worst assault on the Swedish Committee’s medical services since a bitter civil war over a decade ago, said the group’s country director, Andreas Stefansson.

     

     

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    Wars and Rumors of War

     

     

     

    War on terror  :   Costs of War       Blow back

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Published on Sep 18, 2012 by

     

    Within the last week, protests have popped up all over the world. From Libya to Australia, Muslims are showing their discontent over the American-produced film the “Innocence of Muslims.” Reports have surfaced that a recent suicide attack in Afghanistan which killed 12 people was in response to the film. Now, NATO says they are cutting ties and are suspending training the Afghan army. So what does this mean for the future of Afghanistan? Anthony Shaffer with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies joins us with his take on NATO’s move