Afghanistan\\\'s troubled national army Fixing the unfixable

with the army now 134,000 strong. The goal is to get to 171,600 by October next year, requiring as much additional growth as has been achieved in the past five years.
Yet, as General Caldwell says, it is even more important to improve the quality and make-up of the army. Less than 3% of recruits are from the troublesome Pushtun south, from where the Taliban draw most support. Few will sign up, fearing ruthless intimidation against government “collaborators” and their families. As a result, northern officers who only speak Dari have to use translators when in the Pushtu-speaking south. Northern infantry are reluctant to go there at all. This plays to fears of a looming north-south civil war.
NATO is trying various fixes. Simon Levey, a Briton who until recently oversaw army training, promoted what he called an “ethnic mixer” approach of setting up units that reflect the country’s ethnic make-up. An eight-week “mujahideen integration course” is supposed to entice former anti-Soviet resistance leaders to join up. They could help to address another problem: a lack of mid-level talent in an army short of non-commissioned officers.
The army also needs funds for infrastructure, such as a sprawling Afghanistan Defence University now being built on the edge of Kabul. Jack Kem, General Caldwell’s civilian deputy, thinks the army and police, once at full strength, will cost $6 billion a year to run (training this year costs $11 billion). Afghanistan cannot afford that, so outsiders will need to cough up. That would still be cheaper than paying for foreign troops: each American soldier costs $1m a year to sustain in Afghanistan.(End)