Posts Tagged ‘Afghan army’
By Miles Amoore and Christina Lamb
THE two men should be sworn enemies. One is a Taliban commander waging what he says is a holy war against foreign soldiers in Afghanistan. The other is an Afghan army officer trained and paid by Nato to fight the Taliban.
Yet rather than do battle, the two men have forged a secret alliance. In the area of Ghazni province where both are based, just an hour’s drive south of Kabul, they collaborate to loot Nato supply convoys, dividing up the proceeds. They even share intelligence about military operations.
“We lost seven men in an ambush when I first arrived at the base,” explained Afghan army lieutenant Mohammad Wali, who commands 18 men. “So I thought, why risk my life when there’s another way?”
These are the security forces on which Nato strategy depends as world leaders gather in Chicago today to set in motion an end to the alliance’s biggest military operation — if not an end to the war itself.
The drawdown — officials avoid the word withdrawal — is based on handing over security to an Afghan army able to prevent Afghanistan from plunging into civil war when most of the 130,000-strong Nato-led force pulls out in 2014.
Last week, the alliance announced the transfer of another chunk of territory to Afghan control and soon three-quarters of the Afghan population will come under the protection of the Afghan security forces (ANSF).
In its latest report to the US Congress, the Pentagon claims 40% of operations are already led by Afghans. But Michael O’Hanlon, a defence expert at the Brookings Institution, who visited Afghanistan last week, said almost all were simple operations.
Revelations of secret ceasefire agreements between Taliban insurgents and Nato-trained Afghan soldiers appear to undermine Nato’s confidence that the latter can hold the line.
Nato handed over control of Ghazni city, the provincial capital, to Afghan security forces at the end of last year. Last month the Taliban closed down 100 schools in the province.
Wali said he had been approached by the local Taliban commander six months ago. Meeting in a bazaar, the pair agreed a ceasefire and a plan to ambush Nato supply convoys on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, which passes through the province.
“The plan is simple,” said Wali. “When the Taliban attack the convoys we stay in our bases. If the Taliban capture something valuable then they share it with us later.” Read the rest of this entry »
The killing of three British soldiers by an Afghan comrade last week has intensified Nato concern that Taliban fighters may be infiltrating Afghanistan’s army in growing numbers.
An Afghan sergeant shot dead a sleeping British officer and launched a rocket-propelled grenade that killed two other soldiers. British and Afghan military intelligence searching for the gunman suspect he may have been trained in Iran.
“Of course we’re worried about infiltration,” said an American colonel who works closely with the Afghan National Army (ANA). “The signs are that it is on the increase too. This is a big problem for us but there is little we can do.”
Nato’s eventual exit from the conflict relies heavily on the ability of the Afghan army to take responsibility for security. News of Taliban infiltration casts further doubts on the effectiveness of the Afghan force.
“Partnering with the Afghans is key to our success in this mission,” said Major-General Nick Carter, the commander of Nato troops in southern Afghanistan. “This [the murders] is damaging to the relationship we have with the Afghans. They are absolutely gutted by this.”
Carter said his opposite number in the ANA, Maj-Gen Sher Mohammad Zazi, had warned his subordinates to “look closely” at new recruits to see if any of them “behave in a strange way or act in an unusual fashion”. Read the rest of this entry »