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Afghanistan’s Sham Army

Posted on Nov 9, 2009
AP / David Guttenfelder

Afghan army recruits stand at attention during a graduation ceremony at the Kabul Military Training Center.

By Chris Hedges

Success in Afghanistan is measured in Washington by the ability to create an indigenous army that will battle the Taliban, provide security and stability for Afghan civilians and remain loyal to the puppet government of Hamid Karzai. A similar task eluded the Red Army, although the Soviets spent a decade attempting to pacify the country. It eluded the British a century earlier. And the United States, too, will fail.

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American military advisers who work with the Afghan National Army, or ANA, speak of poorly trained and unmotivated Afghan soldiers who have little stomach for military discipline and even less for fighting. They describe many ANA units as being filled with brigands who terrorize local populations, exacting payments and engaging in intimidation, rape and theft. They contend that the ANA is riddled with Taliban sympathizers. And when there are combined American and Afghan operations against the Taliban insurgents, ANA soldiers are fickle and unreliable combatants, the U.S. advisers say. 

American military commanders in Afghanistan, rather than pump out statistics about enemy body counts, measure progress by the swelling size of the ANA. The bigger the ANA, the better we are supposedly doing. The pressure on trainers to increase the numbers of the ANA means that training and vetting of incoming Afghan recruits is nearly nonexistent.

The process of induction for Afghan soldiers begins at the Kabul Military Training Center. American instructors at the Kabul center routinely complain of shortages of school supplies such as whiteboards, markers and paper. They often have to go to markets and pay for these supplies on their own or do without them. Instructors are pressured to pass all recruits and graduate many who have been absent for a third to half the training time. Most are inducted into the ANA without having mastered rudimentary military skills.

“I served the first half of my tour at the Kabul Military Training Center, where I was part of a small team working closely with the ANA to set up the country’s first officer basic course for newly commissioned Afghan lieutenants,” a U.S. Army first lieutenant who was deployed last year and who asked not to be identified by name told me. “During the second half of my tour, I left Kabul’s military schoolhouse and was reassigned to an embedded tactical training team, or ETT team, to help stand up a new Afghan logistics battalion in Herat.”


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“Afghan soldiers leave the KMTC grossly unqualified,” this lieutenant, who remains on active duty, said. “American mentors do what they can to try and fix these problems, but their efforts are blocked by pressure from higher, both in Afghan and American chains of command, to pump out as many soldiers as fast as possible.”

Afghan soldiers are sent from the Kabul Military Training Center directly to active-duty ANA units. The units always have American trainers, know as a “mentoring team,” attached to them. The rapid increase in ANA soldiers has outstripped the ability of the American military to provide trained mentoring teams. The teams, normally comprised of members of the Army Special Forces, are now formed by plucking American soldiers, more or less at random, from units all over Afghanistan.

“This is how my entire team was selected during the middle of my tour: a random group of people from all over Kabul—Air Force, Navy, Army, active-duty and National Guard—pulled from their previous assignments, thrown together and expected to do a job that none of us were trained in any meaningful way to do,” the officer said. “We are expected, by virtue of time-in-grade and membership in the U.S. military, to be able to train a foreign force in military operations, an extremely irresponsible policy that is ethnocentric at its core and which assumes some sort of natural superiority in which an untrained American soldier has everything to teach the Afghans, but nothing to learn.”

“You’re lucky enough if you had any mentorship training at all, something the Army provides in a limited capacity at pre-mobilization training at Fort Riley, but having none is the norm,” he said. “Soldiers who receive their pre-mobilization training at Fort Bragg learn absolutely nothing about mentoring foreign forces aside from being given a booklet on the subject, and yet soldiers who go through Bragg before being shipped to Afghanistan are just as likely to be assigned to mentoring teams as anyone else.”

The differences between the Afghan military structure and the American military structure are substantial. The ANA handles logistics differently. Its rank structure is not the same. Its administration uses different military terms. It rarely works with the aid of computers or basic technology. The cultural divide leaves most trainers, who do not speak Dari, struggling to figure out how things work in the ANA.

“The majority of my time spent as a mentor involved trying to understand what the Afghans were doing and how they were expected to do it, and only then could I even begin to advise anyone on the problems they were facing,” this officer said. “In other words, American military advisers aren’t immediately helpful to Afghans. There is a major learning curve involved that is sometimes never overcome. Some advisers play a pivotal role, but many have little or no effect as mentors.”

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By technology, May 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

well, then. our governments done something right. we’ve turned them into our polices forces.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 14, 2009 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment

Everyone knows I usually detest Hedges but give the man his due: this is one of the best articles I think he has produced, and far better than his typical primal whines.  This one actually is fact-based and presents a progressive, logical argument.

Of course, the solution to the Afghan Army’s problems can be summarized in three words: Competent Drill Instructors.  It is as fundamentally necessary as bullets to a gun that your foundation of your army is your DIs.  Not your Presidents, Secretaries of War, Generals, Colonels, Captains or Lieutenants, but your non-commissioned Drill Instructors. 

This has been violated and the results are: the only fighting force in Afghanistan that isn’t capable of fighting!

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By John Crandell, November 12, 2009 at 12:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Articles published during the past twelve hours in the Washington Post, Huffington Post and The Nation in the leadup to Obama’s decision regards troop levels. Check them out, people.

TPM is way behind the curve and Ms. Huff is way out front.

The whole scene now reminds me of late summer 1963, the Kennedy administration and what course to pursue in South Vietnam. Someone was very much needed back then (and forever as well) to cut through all of the DOD and State Department and National Security shitheads running interference in Washington, and we may have such a person with the present ambassador to Afghanistan dispatching two “strongly worded” cables to Obama.

And now The Nation really throws a grenade over the transom with an article about where DOD funds to contractors are really going…...

Throw in Veterans Day, the incident at Ft. Hood and the ramping up of the whole issue of troop levels in recent months. It is all getting VERY interesting. We’ll soon see just how much spine Obama really has and his ambassador may go way off the reservation to boot.

Lucien Conein - anyone?

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By mandinka, November 11, 2009 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

Hedges could have written the same article on Barak’s army ACORN. They are Taliban like and despised by the voters in this country

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By PatrickHenry, November 11, 2009 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

See what the Afgan commanders are saying:

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By Trailing Begonia, November 11, 2009 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

The United States of Amnesia will soon find out why they call Afghanistan “The Graveyard of Empires.”  The USan Empire has gone there to die.

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By john crandell, November 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment

Government gone berzerk and out of control is only a jumping off point for such a wicked movie as ‘Brazil.’ Whatever, me thinks the flick’s primary import is of a much higher order than Orwell’s thesis.

So we’re now ten years into this millennium and it seems to me that Orwell’s major theme has become archaic. (Hint: it’s not the government that is doing it to us. Pay attention to the final scene!)

I think it was John V. Morley who once, in reflecting upon the meting out of fate amongst each and all of us, spoke of what he called the frown of this world - “whose horrors are more awfull than the withering up of truth and the slow going out of the light within the souls of us.”

To me, Gilliam’s final scene speaks much about that. American civilization has gone way and far around the bend and the fact that so many of us have fallen for the big lie over the past two years in the pudding’s proof.

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By kelypet, November 10, 2009 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

I enjoyed this article. I am looking forward to the continuation since it did not go into much depth.

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By KingofthePaupers, November 10, 2009 at 9:34 pm Link to this comment

“And when there are combined American and Afghan operations against the Taliban insurgents, ANA soldiers are fickle and unreliable combatants, the U.S. advisers say.”

Jct: This sounds so much like Viet Nam where the troops of the puppet government didn’t have the heart to kill their countrymen the invaders thought they should have. Notice there was no slaughter of fellow countrymen in Vietnam after the invaders were driven out, I’d bet there’ll be no slaughter in Afghanistan when the invaders are driven out. Just don’t expect fellow countrymen to be so enthusiastic about warring in their own land.

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By PatrickHenry, November 10, 2009 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Don’t laugh, after 2012 these Afgans may be the “superpower” on the block.

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By Xntrk, November 10, 2009 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

Brazil is one of my son’s favorite movies. He uses it as a little test for potential girlfriends…

Tao Walker says “Having now driven their death-machine about as far as it’s going to go here, these wannabe parasites are looking to go-out in an orgy of self-destruction.  They mean to take as many of their Human livestock with them as can be CONned into accompanying them into oblivion.”

If you doubt this, read the following links about our never-ending military expansion: Will the militarization of the world by the Pentagon and NATO ever stop?

The annexation of Colombia to the United States:

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By Jolimont, November 10, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Think of it: Afghans believe God wants them to keep
half of their human capital under lock and key (I’m
referring to the women) where they can only be
minimally productive. And we’re surprised they are poor
and unhappy? I think they are beyond help. Get our
troops out of there pronto!

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By D.R. Zing, November 10, 2009 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Five quick comments:

* Comprehensive peace is the best solution.  Pull out, change our energy policy.  Nothing would be better than Obama announcing we are withdrawing and that all corporations selling cars in the United States must offer electric vehicles in the next five years. The money we pay for oil fuels the terrorists and insurgents.

*  IF we are going to stay and fight, funding a corrupt army is insane. It doesn’t work, Nap, sorry.  Our goal should be to disarm the country.  No weapons should be available to anyone. Think Japan 1947. 

*  Private contractors.  A very frightening proposition indeed, shades of the Nazi SS.  Keep in mind there is nothing in the constitution to prevent these guys from roaming our streets and enforcing martial law.  See New Orleans. 

*  The Soviets lost because we were funneling money to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and they in turn were funneling it to the insurgents.  Little has changed.  The insurgents still receive foreign aid from our supposed allies. The only difference is it’s us bearing the brunt of the insurgency.

* Give peace a chance, for once.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 10, 2009 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

re: John Crandell

I gather that the “Brazil” you refer to is the 1985 movie directed by Terry Gilliam, which presents a very dark comedy of a retro-future Britain where insane totalitarianism becomes the daily order of things, to supposedly do battle with a war terrorism that never stops.
It is indeed prophetic, with its stylized depiction of extraordinary rendition, and the narcissistic obsessions of the ownership class, along with a disturbing “happy ending” of a bureaucrat going insane.
This film disturbed some in the movie business, including Sid Sheinberg, then president of Universal pictures, who refused to release the picture, unless some editing changes were made to make it more commercially viable.
A battle royal broke out between Sheinberg and Gilliam, with Gilliam prevailing, when his 132 minute edited version was released in Los Angeles on Christmas Day, 1985.

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By Kay Johnson, November 10, 2009 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

“For those of you who have a NetFlix account, here’s to sincerely recommend that you proceed to rent or buy a copy of the 1985 movie ‘Brazil.’”—John Crandall

A couple of months ago, I checked Brazil out of the library here in NYC. I hadn’t seen it since it was originally released way back in 1985—as I recall. I agree—the film is probably more relevant today than it was in 1985. Terry Gilliam directed.

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By melpol, November 10, 2009 at 7:26 am Link to this comment

The only thing conservatives like about big government is the defense budget.
They want to cut every other service. It would be just if all war hawks were
dragged out of bed and shipped To the Arabian desert with a rifle and binoculars
in their hands. Their job would be to find Osama.

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By Ouroborus, November 10, 2009 at 5:30 am Link to this comment

john crandell, November 10 at 1:57 am #

I’m DL it now; not sure I’ve ever seen it, thanks.

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By johannes, November 10, 2009 at 4:41 am Link to this comment

To John Crandell, most people think of the cinema as visions or illusions, never ass a reality.

The situation as drawn in outline in the film Brazil, are now reality, but what are we doing to changes this situation, yes writing and discusion, exactly what was foreseen in this picture.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 10, 2009 at 3:15 am Link to this comment

The officer quoted by Mr. Hedges in this article, nailed it down with “this system of waste and private profit from public funds”... which is, when you think about it, is what these wars, the stock market and health care all have in common.

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By john crandell, November 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment

Dear Folks,

the next time that I vote for President, I will write in the name Chris Hedges, author of this one too true slice of reality out of Obama’s War on Afghanistan.

Reading his words reminds me of reading those of David Halberstam (The Making of a Quagmire) in June of 1969, the month before I went off for my own lovely war on the other side of the planet. If you’ve stomached to read all of Chris’ article, well - you’r starting to understand how I felt all these years ago.

So to even begin to think that someone somehow had ought to get Hedges’ words past all of the gatekeepers and into Obama’s hands - - - now THAT would be/is the height of naivete. Because O. KNOWS all of this; knew it going in.

And one year later, at Fort Hood, every couple of months we got to pull a night on guard outside of the old base hospital, south of Battalion Avenue and not too far from the 501st Admin barracks. The building remained from World War II, all of one story and completely built of wood. So, to keep us admin rangers in our place, they had us pull all-night guard (individually) walking around that empty, long abandoned pile of wood. Perhaps they thought that a terrorist or two might come down out of Crawford to blow the place up (or at least light a match to it).

Now that same terrain is covered by the base deployment complex and these last few days I’ve wondered why a native born, field-grade officer would aim his firearms at fellow soldiers. I sit here pondering all that I’ve read about my own distant war and I begin to imagine that his actions begin to form some sort of commentary.

For those of you who have a NetFlix account, here’s to sincerely recommend that you proceed to rent or buy a copy of the 1985 movie ‘Brazil.’

Do not pass Go, do not vote, go directly towards Brazil - because that is exactly where we all now reside. The major’s actions have provided horrendous commentary, whatever his true intent.

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By Nap, November 9, 2009 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Afghanistan is to ever to recover the trauma of the last century, an afghan army is an indispensable tool. But an all volunteer mercenary fighting force and privet contractors are the stuff of the empire, afghans need conscription to educate and discipline their youth who will be paid, performing civil services duty rebuilding Afghanistan and hopefully shattering tribal and religious bigotry.

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By PatrickHenry, November 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

While the Afghan national army might not be the best national army in the area, it is the only one the country will have….eventually.

“American military advisers who work with the Afghan National Army, or ANA, speak of poorly trained and unmotivated Afghan soldiers who have little stomach for military discipline and even less for fighting”.

A good chance these Afghan soldiers have known war since before they were born and have survived through it.  I don’t blame them for being unmotivated or not wanting to fight, sounds pretty sane to me.

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By TAO Walker, November 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment

Most commenters here, along with this article’s author, continue to treat all this as if the more glaring “failures” of the now “global” regime of institutionalized industrial-strength depredation are somehow anomalous….merely an unfortunate “side-effect” of otherwise legitimate, even admirable activities and aims.  Granted, it’s not easy to put aside all one’s received opinions about the benevolent nature and elevated purpose of “civilization,” and simply see it in the terrible light of its actual effects upon the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth and all Her Children….including the domesticated Human ones.  Still, shouldn’t it at least occur to people of good-will that anything they have to be so constantly making so many lame excuses for (if only in their own minds) might possibly be somehow rotten at its very core?

Granted, also, that homo domesticus has been bred for ten or more millennia to be all-but non-viable outside the increasingly toxic confines of the contraption.  So getting to a ‘place’ where one can see any viable alternative at all is admittedly difficult in-the-extreme for its inmates.  For better or worse, though, that is exactly the stance our tame Sisters and Brothers must reach if they’re to have even a GhostDancers’ chance of living through the damned thing’s self-destruction, which is actually what “the nightly news” is all about….every night.

Until their common plight is recognized as being all-of-a-piece, rather than the occasional isolated “breakdown” of an otherwise beneficent “system,”  and the one true product and purpose of the apparatus in which they are caught-up, the “individual” members of the sub-species homo domesticus will go on being easy-pickings for their single-minded, self-obsessed, desperate tormentors.  The prospect, however seemingly remote, of such a comprehensive awareness dawning-on their captives, even at this late date, is the one thing that strikes fear into the their icy “souls.”

Having now driven their death-machine about as far as it’s going to go here, these wannabe parasites are looking to go-out in an orgy of self-destruction.  They mean to take as many of their Human livestock with them as can be CONned into accompanying them into oblivion.

None of us has to do that, though.  We can all, together, walk The Tiyoshpaye Way to safety….leaving the damned fools to perish as “....just prisoners here of (their) own device,” which they’ve always been.  Those who keep fooling around trying to “make sense” of the absolutely senseless, however, may well miss-out on getting back into the never-ending Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself with their wits about them.

‘Til we catch them later, anyhow.


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By truedigger3, November 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment

Prole wrote:
And using mercenaries and ‘Gurkhas’ on the battlefield goes back many centuries, it’s an age-old strategy of imperial powers.”


There is big difference here. The “Gurkhas” and the merceneries didn’t work for corporations.  They were hired and led by the military and worked directly under its command and mostly they were fighting forces on a stand-by who were being moved from theater to theater. There was no way for them to milk the system.

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By johannes, November 9, 2009 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

To GEM-IN-Orange

Thank you if you could come over to france we could think things over, with a good bottle of wine.

Or are you living in Orange France ?

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By Hulk2008, November 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

The Afghan Army needs to be just competent enough for US troops to “get the heck outta Dodge”.  We should care less if Karzai or any other puppet survives in Kabul. 

  The US went into Afghanistan with some CIA, some Special Forces, and some contractors to boost up the Northern Alliance long enough to wipe out most of Al Qaeda.  Mission Accomplished.

  Now hat up and head out !!

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By Super Lou, November 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We won’t hear the “Today Show” or “Good Morning America” or “Meet the Press,” discuss this, will we?  They’ll be too busy trying to decipher if al Qaeda cells have infiltrated Ft. Hood.

For an equally insightful and damning article on the sham Afghan Army check out Ann Jones,

Meet the Afghan Army
Is It a Figment of Washington’s Imagination?
By Ann Jones

“Like army training, police training, too, was accelerated months ago to insure “security” during the run-up to the presidential election. With that goal in mind, DynCorp mentors shrunk the basic police training course from eight weeks to three, after which the police were dispatched to villages all across the country, including areas controlled by the Taliban. After the election, the surviving short-course police “soldiers” were to be brought back to Kabul for the rest of the basic training program. There’s no word yet on how many returned.

You have to wonder about the wisdom of rushing out this half-baked product. How would you feel if the police in your community were turned loose, heavily armed, after three weeks of training? And how would you feel if you were given a three-week training course with a rubber gun and then dispatched, with a real one, to defend your country?

Training security forces is not cheap. So far, the estimated cost of training and mentoring the police since 2001 is at least $10 billion. Any reliable figure on the cost of training and mentoring the Afghan army since 2001 is as invisible as the army itself. But the U.S. currently spends some $4 billion a month on military operations in Afghanistan.

The Invisible Men

What is there to show for all this remarkably expensive training? Although in Washington they may talk about the 90,000 soldiers in the Afghan National Army, no one has reported actually seeing such an army anywhere in Afghanistan. When 4,000 U.S. Marines were sent into Helmand Province in July to take on the Taliban in what is considered one of its strongholds, accompanying them were only about 600 Afghan security forces, some of whom were police. Why, you might ask, didn’t the ANA, 90,000 strong after eight years of training and mentoring, handle Helmand on its own? No explanation has been offered. American and NATO officers often complain that Afghan army units are simply not ready to “operate independently,” but no one ever speaks to the simple question: Where are they?

My educated guess is that such an army simply does not exist. It may well be true that Afghan men have gone through some version of “Basic Warrior Training” 90,000 times or more. When I was teaching in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2006, I knew men who repeatedly went through ANA training to get the promised Kalashnikov and the pay. Then they went home for a while and often returned some weeks later to enlist again under a different name.

In a country where 40% of men are unemployed, joining the ANA for 10 weeks is the best game in town. It relieves the poverty of many families every time the man of the family goes back to basic training, but it’s a needlessly complicated way to unintentionally deliver such minimal humanitarian aid. Some of these circulating soldiers are aging former mujahidin—the Islamist fundamentalists the U.S. once paid to fight the Soviets—and many are undoubtedly Taliban.”

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By FRTothus, November 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

The “training” the US “provides” has as its goal a cadre of officers who will be pliant tools for a US-backed coup should their leaders give any sign of an unwillingness to allow US corporate rape of their country’s resources that is the American Way.  It is no wonder that the corporate press, let alone the public schools, don’t teach history.  If they did, Americans would realize that these self-same lies served as cover for the same thing in Vietnam, in Central and South America, in fact, everywhere the US seeks to dominate for the benefit of corporate priviledge, which is to say, everywhere.  The notion that the US is attempting to export democracy makes for nice speeches, but is not based on fact, evidence, or history.  For what were we training the Iraqi army after we disbanded it?  Certainly it wasn’t to protect them from the country that turned out to be the one that they had the most cause to fear invasion from.  What sense would it make to train an army to defend itself from the very nation (the United States) that poses their biggest threat?  When the self-same country that is doing the invading is doing the training, we ought to all sit up and take notice, and realize that governments, our own being no exception, lie, and nothing they say should ever be believed.

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By fwdpost, November 9, 2009 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

Terrific report. More cannon fodder. MPRI is represented by Daschle’s wife, where she is a lobbyist. That’s Daschle - Obama’s buddy, who doesn’t like to pay income taxes.

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By miller, November 9, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

Old news, babe.  My son served three tours in the mideast, the last was in
Afghanistan.  His unit had Afghani National police accompanying them on raids.
He had the same complaints back in 2005 and 2006.  Lazy, dopeheads, thugs,
unmotivated, etc., etc., etc.

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By prole, November 9, 2009 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

“The American military has been largely privatized, although Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has still recommended a 40,000-troop increase….The aims of the military and the contractors are in conflict. A scaling down of the war or a withdrawal is viewed by these corporations as bad for business.”  So if the aims of the military and the contractors are in conflict, then just why has the top military commander not made this clear and instead recommended a troop decrease or withdrawal? Why has McChrystal’s repeated requests for very large troop increases been echoed now also by Adm. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and by other top military brass. As well as the top British Army Gen., Sir David Richards who told the Sunday Telegraph last month that reinforcements would enable Nato to achieve its objectives more quickly and with fewer casualties. Just who is it that speaks for the military? Is there a growing movement for mutiny in the ranks? There may be welcome individual voices of doubt and dissent down the line of command but there is little public evidence of any rift between the military and the contractors in pursuing control of Afghanistan and the resource-rich Central Asia region. “‘American and Afghan soldiers are putting their lives at risk, Afghan civilians are dying, and yet there’s this underlying system in place that gains more from keeping all of them in harm’s way rather than taking them out of it,’ the officer complained.” Sometimes referred to as ‘the new world order’ or ‘freedom and democracy’ or what have you, defending and imposing the “underlying system” is what the military is all about. It was doing that long before the runaway growth of venal private military contracting. And using mercenaries and ‘Gurkhas’ on the battlefield goes back many centuries, it’s an age-old strategy of imperial powers. “‘If we bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, we may profit morally, we might make gains for humanity, but moral profits and human gains do not contribute to the bottom line. Peace and profit are ultimately contradictory forces at work in Afghanistan.’” But the military and private profit are not contradictory forces in the ‘underlying system’. That’s always been the biggest part of their mission, with or without rapacious private contractors in tow.

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By Folktruther, November 9, 2009 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Privitizing the US military, putting in civilians to do tasks formerly done by soldiers, means that their is a much larger Amerian force there than the official figures.  And the official figures don’t include the US mercenaries.  And the cost is much greater than it would other wise be.  And the profit as well of course.

Another great Hedges piece, as Elisa says.  truthdig is lucky to have him.

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By beeline, November 9, 2009 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Its disgusting that our troops have to go on wondering who they can trust.

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By beeline, November 9, 2009 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

The fact that a rogue Afghan policeman shot and killed 5 British soldiers (and injured several others)would seem to prove that the Taliban have no problems with infiltration.

He escaped on a motorbike and has still not been caught, apparently safely back with the Taliban.

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By elisalouisa, November 9, 2009 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

This is an excellent article concerning the war in Afghanistan. Wish the mainline
media would pick it up. No chance though, they are on the line as to the war
waiting to see which way the wind blows. Indeed truedigger3 handing critical
government functions over to corporations whose only concern is profit , not the
well being of our country, means endless wars until our country falls completely .

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By Filler Crowley, November 9, 2009 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

If only this column could get into the New York Times!

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By the tshirt doctor, November 9, 2009 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

well, then. our governments done something right. we’ve turned them into our polices forces.  terrorizing local populations, exacting payments and engaging in intimidation, rape and theft.  check. check. check. check and check.  and you people didn’t they’d look good in them uniforms.

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By truedigger3, November 9, 2009 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

For a change, this is an excellent illuminating article from Chris Hedges.
I admit, in the last few weeks, I have grown very tired and irritated with Hedges’ continuous pontification , preaching and beating around the bushes without giving something concrete to his readers.
This article is different and it is a powerful inditement to the push for privatization here at home and abroad and handing critical governmnent funtions to bunch of profiteers whose only concern is piling more money and let the national and people interests be damned.  Health care “reform” anybody.!!

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By Howie Bledsoe, November 9, 2009 at 6:02 am Link to this comment
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Why should these troops not be demoralized? THey know as well as anyone that the Gov. is corrupt, they are occupied by a country they disrespect and for most of these guys, military is the only viable job option.
Maybe if we gave them something to belive in, some reason to want to do a good job, be honourable and noble, then perhaps the army would have a different outlook.

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By johannes, November 9, 2009 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

To Freewill

Yes I think you are right, maby I have to change my word of freedom, to something a little bit dirtyer, the problem is deep in my hart I want still to beleef in something clean, something shining and nice, but I must agrè thet it is an illusion, and I am afraid that it has to stay that way.

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By dihey, November 9, 2009 at 5:53 am Link to this comment

In order to understand why a national Afghan army is a nonsensical organization it is useful to study what is now the country of France but at the time of King Henry II of England.

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By GEM_in_Orange, November 9, 2009 at 5:46 am Link to this comment
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johannes @ 8.48 am—Can you try that again, but in English this time?

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By David Moore, November 9, 2009 at 5:42 am Link to this comment
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I was in Vietnam in 1971 and this is just typical. In Vietnam, advisors could either be top of the line or the lowest graduate from OCS. Viertually all these problems, e.g., corruption, theft, warlords, and drugs were experienced in Vietnam. I actually wrote an Anthropology thesis (self-published now as a book) about the effects of COIN and insurgency on tribal populations, “Tribal soldiers of Vietnam.” I hope Hedges can compare the soviet COIN to ours in a future article. Like Hedges, I am an Arabic speaker, so I also agree with his insights on the Middle East. Best of luck.

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By Rick F, November 9, 2009 at 5:40 am Link to this comment
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Again, Chris Hedges helps to provide a perspective that we so sorely lack.  “Peace and profit are ultimately contradictory forces at work in Afghanistan.”  I would submit that this concept applies to many of our military adventures in addition to this one.  ...Long time passing…When will we ever learn?

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By Joe, November 9, 2009 at 5:05 am Link to this comment
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This is a fairly silly assertion this article makes

We do not need to train the Afghans to fight, they can fight better than we can.  If anything they should be training us to fight

Even with all of our high tech toys we still can’t defeat these third world people.

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By FreeWill, November 9, 2009 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

What C.H. has so skill fully documented here, is that what we are not exporting democracy to Afghanistan as we are told.  But instead we are bringing our Corporate and Ultra Rich culture of greed and corruption. It will be our inevitable undoing both there in Afghanistan and here at home. The lack of any meaningful regulations governing, profit at all cost, Corporations and their power brokers in Washington has put our own democracy in perilous jeopardy and made us a society in decay. Thankfully there are those like C.H. who hold up a candle to the void and darkness spreed by the all powerful, Corporate media.

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By johannes, November 9, 2009 at 4:48 am Link to this comment

This will by the next cuckoo egg in the American nest, all ways the same tune.

This people are so different and so uneducated that they never will and can beleef in something we do.

Freedom them for them is not the same as what we think it is, most live still in the middle ages, they do not even start to think that you can beat them, they join them, who pay the most, it are children of about 10-12 years, and they are used by every one who is willing to pay.

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By joedee1969, November 9, 2009 at 3:36 am Link to this comment
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There is af lot of shams going on with all of this. Read this incredibly powerful piece:

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