Wednesday, March 28, 2007


It seems that the Canucks have their hands full with the Afghan police. An AFP reporter in Maiwand (famous for the 1880 defeat of the British there in the Second Anglo-Afghan war – link below) details how the Canadian Army is trying to prop up Afghan cops that look and act more like stoned out hippies.
“Colourful ribbons tied to their Kalashnikovs and opium flowers decorating a van, police in flip-flops,” she writes.
This is both Taliban and poppy country - a key place for security to take hold, obviously. But unfortunately its one of those places you rarely hear about in the U.S. press.
It’s common knowledge among U.S. troops that work alongside Afghan forces that the Afghan military are mostly scruffy, barely-trained guys in uniform. This week – the press reported that the Afghans have wrapped up their first full-scale military operation without U.S. or NATO forces…other than NATO-supplied air support, logistics etc.
I really wonder how much involvement foreign troops had in planning and executing Operation Nawrozi (New Year) in Helmand over the past week. Or is it just another PR tactic to put on an Afghan face?
You have to give the Afghan troops credit, they are serving their country. But they are surely less-disciplined that U.S. soldiers.However, they carry much less gear and can scramble up hilltops much faster than our guys – after all they have been scrambling up hills in high altitudes their entire lives. They would stay at some lonely observation posts on guard all day and night, with few gripes. And many appeared to want missions to succeed. Some want peace and security and many were proud to be soldiers for Afghanistan.
Others are thugs in uniform. One Afghan soldier, Janet Ghul, told me during a 2005 interview near Tora Bora that the Americans are okay because we bring aid supplies to the people – “But if the Americans ever start acting like the Russians – we’ll kick you out too.”
I nearly slugged this ungrateful shit – why the hell are we risking our lives out here – under the guise that we are establishing Afghan freedom and democracy – only to be judged by some uneducated Afghan trooper, likely paid with U.S. taxpayer money. (I could not use his comment in my story because I was writing DoD news/spin propaganda at the time. – see link below)
But he spoke the truth, as angry as it made me then – these rugged mountain people have banded together to force out two modern armies in the past 150 years – the British and the Russians – both who had power and technology well-advanced for their times. So, maybe his rant should be a warning.
Our guys never have a ton of confidence in the Afghan military – even less for the so-called Afghan police. I remember seeing them asleep on cots outside a mud hut – which was supposed to be a police checkpoint. One U.S. troop told me they called the Afghan police – “Klucks.” I’m not sure what that really meant, but it does not seem to be a term of endearment.
The AFP writes…The Canadians do not really expect this small post to do much to stop the Taliban. "Two or three guys in a hut, armed with rifles, could not do much if they were attacked. They could not even stop a vehicle," said one soldier.
The Canadian soldiers suspect the Afghan police are high from smoking opium. Thankfully, the drug has yet to become popular among U.S. and NATO troops – as it had been in the Soviet military by the mid-1980's when they were starting to get their asses severely beaten and morales hit bottom for Russian troops.

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