Afghan National Army

One of the more annoying things we all tend to do is toss
out suggestions that our government do this or that without the slightest clue
what might be involved or even whether it is possible. Here are a few examples
of the thinking I am talking about.

The government should
be able to spot people like Maj. Nidal M. Hasan (the Army psychologist who
murdered and injured dozens of people in Ft Hood) before they go crazy.

Really? How? What would be required and at what cost to our liberties?

We should double the
number of our solders in Afghanistan and really get on top of the Taliban insurgency.

Really? Where will they come from? We have already called up most of our
reserves. How can we equip them properly and build the housing they will need
in Afghanistan (where winters are brutal)? How will they get the training
needed to deal with local Afghans in a way that brings them to our side rather
than turns them into our enemy?

Afghans should defend
themselves. They should quickly expand their Army and we will help train them.

This is a sensible goal, but what would it involve. Our military wants the
Afghan National Army (ANA) of 93,000 to grow to 134,000 over the next year. In a
fascinating discussion of building an effective ANA, Jeff Haynes, a recently
retired Colonel in the United States Marine Corps, argues that the existing ANA
could do the job with better leadership and better equipment. Rapidly expanding
the ANA will only make its weak leadership weaker by spreading it more thinly.
Good military leaders cannot be “produced” with six weeks, or six months (or
even six years) of intensive training. They are not sitting on the self just
waiting to be deployed. Many of the ANA senior leaders reflect their Soviet
training and style. Little is delegated. Promotions often reflect tribal
connections or other forms of favoritism, demoralizing the more capable solders
who then leave for more promising jobs, etc. In short, we are dealing with real
people, leading real lives in the midst of a real history. Change is needed and
change is never quick or easy. More of the same but larger will not do the job.
Col Haynes provides a very knowledgeable understanding of the situation and
offers very specific recommendations. His article is well worth reading:

About wcoats

Dr. Warren L. Coats specializes in advising central banks on monetary policy, and in the development of their capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy. He is retired from the International Monetary Fund, where, as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department, he led missions to over twenty countries. Before then, he served as Visiting Economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and to the World Bank, and was Assistant Prof of Economics at the Univ. of Virginia from 1970-75. Most recently he was Senior Monetary Policy Advisor to the Central Bank of Iraq; an IMF consultant to the central banks of Afghanistan, Kenya and Zimbabwe; and a Deloitte/USAID advisor to the Government of South Sudan. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Cayman Financial Review and until the end of 2013 was a member of the IMF program team for Afghanistan. His most recent book is entitled "One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina."
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