August 11, 2021

Does The Afghan Army Want To Fight?

"In the north, the Afghan National Police has proved incapable of patrolling and securing villages; immediately after NATO soldiers leave, the insurgents simply return. The village is then taken again and those who assisted NATO are punished. Each time this happens, more civilians are killed. The villagers then stop pointing out the whereabouts of IEDs, thereby increasing NATO casualties.

In the past year, there hasn’t been a single village held by the Afghan National Police in the north. The insurgents always come back." - An excerpt from an article by Taylor Owen called "The Risks of Building the Afghan Army." It was published by The Globe and Mail in September 2011.

There is no question that Pakistan's role in perpetuating the war in Afghanistan has to be accounted for and ultimately dealt with if the country is to know peace in our time.

Pakistan's reach amongst the Afghan Taliban is well documented and can't be denied. But assigning all of the blame for Afghanistan's troubles to the criminals in Pakistan is dishonest. 

Why can't Afghanistan defeat the Taliban?

The Taliban are lightly armed, sandal wearing neanderthals who fight like crazy. History shows that men possessed by an ideology, however backward it may be, don't need to be trained or taught how to fight. Inspiration is all that is required. And that inspiration is absent in the Afghan army. 

A leader is also absent. 

Who is the leader of the Afghan army? Who is the man the soldiers follow and worship? No one. 

In the 80s & 90s there was Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated shortly before 9/11. Since then no figure has filled his void to lead and inspire the country.

The Taliban fight inspired because they believe they are fighting for Islam. But that is not why they have been successful. The Taliban is taking over territory because they get no push back from the Afghan army. If they stand their ground just a little then the Taliban wouldn't be so bold. 

ISIS believed they were fighting for Islam, too, but they lost every battle when they came against determined foes, whether it be the PKK or Hezbollah. Yes, American airstrikes in Kobane and Iranian arms to Hezbollah helped, but what counts most of all is the fighting spirit of the fighters on the ground. 

The Afghan Army has no fighting spirit. It has no core identity, ideology or leader. There are brave accounts of Afghan soldiers standing their ground against the Taliban but they are few and far between. 

It is likely that the exit of America and NATO will prove to be a good thing for Afghanistan. It does not make sense for a national army fighting an insurgency to depend on foreign forces for its survival and success. 

NATO has acted as a security blanket for the Afghan army. But it's morning in Afghanistan and it's time to put the blankets away.