US has to strengthen Afghan institutions to win war: NYT

June 24th, 2009 - 4:09 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama New York, June 24 (ANI): The Obama Administration is giving Afghanistan the attention it requires to rectify the mistakes of the past, in order to check the unprecedented rise in the violence, and strengthen the Afghan Army and the police, according to leading US-based daily.

The situation in Afghanistan is grim, and in the first week of June there were more than 400 attacks, a level not seen since late 2001. President Barack Obama was right to send more US troops to fight, but violence will increase as strengthened ground forces step up the pressure on Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuaries, The New York Times says

But it is also true that there can be no lasting security and no exit for American forces until Afghanistan has a functioning army and national police that can hold back the insurgents and earn the trust of Afghan citizens. Neither comes close today, it adds.

According to the paper, Washington has already spent seven-and-half-years and more than 15 billion dollars on failed training programs. President George W. Bush’s Pentagon never sent enough trainers to systematically embed American advisers in Afghan Army units, an approach now paying dividends in Iraq.

It failed to pay Afghan soldiers a living wage, making it easy for Taliban and drug lords to outbid them for the country’s unemployed young men.

The Pentagon also neglected to keep track of weapons it gave out, like mortars, grenade launchers and automatic rifles. Tens of thousands disappeared, sold to the highest bidder and, in some cases, used against American soldiers, the report said.

Perhaps most fundamentally, says the paper, American war planners never seemed to understand that a more effective Afghan Army and a more honest and competent police force could help persuade civilians that the war against the Taliban was more their own fight and not just an American war being fought on their territory.

Though the Obama’s team seems to be rectifying the mistakes of the past with four thousand more trainers are on their way, a revived training effort will require the full engagement of the new American commander, General Stanley McChrystal, it says.

It claims that Afghanistan’s national police force will have to be rebuilt almost from scratch.

Kabul’s central government is notoriously corrupt, but the tales from the field are even more distressing. Several thousand more police trainers with experience in civilian law enforcement are needed. European NATO members can and should be providing more help, the NYT article says.

There are high expectations for General McChrystal, based on his aggressive attitudes and past special operations success. To turn around the war, ordinary Afghans must begin to trust their own government more than they either fear or trust the extremists, it concludes. (ANI)

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