As President Obama Plans New Troop Surge, Afghanistan Army Deserting in Droves

November 25, 2009

(ChattahBox) — As President Obama prepares to announce a large troop escalation and an outline of the end game in Afghanistan, next week, it still seems questionable whether we have a partner we can win a war with. Obama is preparing to make his case to the nation to support the U.S. troop surge, by explaining the perils of losing, and setting the goal to “dismantle and destroy” al-Qaida terrorists and extremist allies. 

But eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks led the U.S. into Afghanistan, the country still suffers from massive corruption and distrust in foreign troops occupying their land.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai who was sworn in for a second five-year term is a controversial figure whose first term was haunted by accusations of corruption, followed by his disputed victory in fraud-marred presidential elections.

US officials have for years touted the Afghan National Army (ANA) as a success story and are relying on building it into a force that would provide us our best exit strategy. General Stanley A McChrystal, the top US soldier in Afghanistan who has apparently convinced President Obama to go forward with his troop sure plan, called in his August 2009 strategy paper for increasing the ANA to 134,000 troops by October 2010 and eventually to 240,000. But published data by the US Defense Department and the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan reveals a disturbing trend for the past year ending in September. One in every four combat soldiers quit the ANA, driven by extremely high rates of desertion. Analysis of the turnover rate reported in the Asia Times, shows that without some sort of fundamental change in circumstances, the ANA will not be able to get more than 100 000 combat ready troops.  Certainly it’s possible that this trend could be reversed by the troop surge, which will put more specialists on the ground who can help train the ANA, but it’s just one of many gambles that make this war look like a continuing quagmire.


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