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Afghan National Army

From Academic Kids

President Karzai reviews the first soldiers of the Afghan National Army.
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President Karzai reviews the first soldiers of the Afghan National Army.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) is being developed by the United States, France and United Kingdom to take primary responsibility for land-based military operations. The United States has provided uniforms and other basic equipment, while weapons have come from former Soviet bloc countries. To thwart and dissolve localized militias, the Afghan government offers cash and vocational training for members to disarm.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai set a goal of an army of 70,000 men by 2009. By January, 2003 just over 1,700 men in five battalions had completed the 10-week training course, and by June 2003 a total of 4,000 forces had been trained. Initial recruiting problems lay in the lack of cooperation from regional warlords and of committed international support. However, the CIA continues to fund some warlord militias as part of the War on Terrorism. Another problem has been soldiers abandoning their posts after their initial training. A mid-March, 2004 estimate suggested that 3,000 soldiers had done so. In the summer of 2003, the desertion rate was ten percent.

Different members of the U.S.-led coalition have different responsibilities through the process of training the ANA. The U.S. is training the army. Germany is training the police force. Italy is responsible for legal reforms. Japan is responsible for disarming the warlord militias. The U.K. is leading the anti-narcotics effort.

In attempts to create an army that is ethnically balanced, regional commanders were asked to contribute recruits. However, Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ismail Khan were unwilling to make such concessions. In spite of promises for decent salaries, soldiers in the new Army initially received only $30 a month during training and $50 after graduation, although pay for trained soldiers rose to $70. Some of the recruits were under 18 years of age and most could not read or write. Recruits who spoke only Pashto had difficulties because instructions were given through interpreters who spoke Dari (the national language).

Growth continued, however, and the ANA expanded to 5,000 trained soldiers that July. On July 23, about 1,000 ANA soldiers, together with U.S.-led coalition troops, were deployed in Operation Warrior Sweep, marking the first major combat operation for the Afghan troops.

Growth

On September 29, 2003, a new battalion (the 11th) was ready, boosting the force to about 6,000. The 11th battalion was a combat support battalion for the army's 3rd Brigade, and was capable of providing engineering, medical and scout skills.

By February 2004, the U.S. government had spent $US500 million on ANA and police force training. The ANA troop count reached 7,000.

On April 30, 2004, Army reached 8,300 soldiers, with another 2,500 in training.

On January 10, 2005, an American general announced that the ANA comprised of 17,800 soldiers with another 3,400 in training.

By March, 2005, the Afghan National Army had reached a strength of 20,694 soldiers in 31 battalions. The problems of desertion and difficult recruitment that had earlier dogged the ANA had been largely overcome, and there roughly 4,000 soldiers in training.

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