The U.S. Military is scaling down the number of soldiers in Afghanistan and, at the same time, wrapping up the training of Afghan military forces so they can hold their own and continue the fight once we’re gone by 2014. And they’re probably doomed. It’s a depressing thing to think about, but the Afghan military is so woefully unprepared to secure their own country. For the longest time, donkeys were the main mode of transportation for whatever Afghanistan called their army. Then, the U.S. military came in with a magic wand and turned all those jackasses into helicopters and things were awesome. The Afghan military even broke some barriers by training female helicopter pilots. But when U.S. troops march out in 2014, those fancy choppers will turn back into donkeys like some kind of messed up Cinderella fairy magic.
Developed nations like the U.S. are used to dealing with defense contractors who make our war machines for us. After the U.S. draw down takes away the choppers, the Afghani military is going to have to deal with donkey contractors. That’s not a joke. The contractors supply military bases with tactical donkeys which are used to transport weapons, spare parts, food, and water between outposts. And did we mention that a bunch of donkey contractors haven’t been paid in over a year and are threating to cut ties with Afghan military? If they do, in the span of little over a decade, the Afghan military will have gone from donkeys, to high tech choppers, back to donkeys, and then maybe to strapping an RPG to their backs, some skates on their feet and transporting supplies the Wile E. Coyote way. Somehow, Donkeys are the least of the Afghan military’s worries. There are other important steps that have to be taken before you rebuild your country, like learning how to read so you understand your copy of “Building a Modern Nation From Scratch…for Dummies.” In 2010, only 18% of the 243,000 Afghan troops could read above a 1st-grade level. By 2011, and after an $88 million investment, 86% could read at a 3rd-grade level. If your parents spent $88 million on a reading tutor and you weren’t breezing through quantum physics textbooks a year later, they’d drop you off in a corn field and hope your sense of direction isn’t at Homeward Bound-levels of accuracy. As of November 2012, way too many Afghan troops are still illiterate. Illiteracy rates are so bad that 90% of the soldiers on a remote base in Northern Afghanistan were pissed because they hadn’t been paid in months. Turns out they were getting paid, they just couldn’t read their bank statements.
If all goes well, by 2014 most Afghan troops will finally be able to read those Goosebumps books they’ve had sitting on their shelves for over two decades. But maybe they haven’t gotten around to them because stoners have a hard time getting things done. Everything’s a lot harder when the future protectors of a nation are blazed out of their minds. Drug addiction has been one of the biggest problems the U.S. has faced when trying to train Afghan soldiers. In 2010, a series of random drug tests of Afghan army and police forces found that about 40% were drug users, and a separate investigation put that number at “at least 50%.” One US army trainer said drug addiction was so rampant that “If we instituted drug testing in the Afghan army, we would lose three quarters to 85 percent of the Afghan army”.
Everyone hated the stoner kids who showed up to class high, but at least they had the decency to hotbox in their cars before class. Afghan troops don’t give a damn. They will — and have — sparked up joints in front of U.S. troops and American reporters, gotten high while on patrol, and in the middle of firefights have been known to take a second to smoke a bowl, because nothing helps ease weed-paranoia better than being shot at. Some of them also sell weed and opium to U.S. troops. Why go through several dozen middle men to inevitably get your drugs in American hands when you can sell it to them directly? On top of all this, a lot of the soldiers are thieves, they sell their gear for quick cash, and high ranking officials question where some of their allegiances actually lie. So when U.S. forces are out by 2014, Afghanistan will be in the safe hands of thieving, drug-addled, tactical donkey-riding, illiterate turncoats.