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The Killid Group
Transition: literacy, not just weaponsWritten by Mohammad Reza Gulkohi
Sunday, 31 July 2011 16:08
Can the security transition process be successful unless NATO and the US pay the enormous costs for equipping and training Afghan forces?
It is time for Afghan security forces to prepare to take over security duties from US-NATO. Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzay, chairman of the Transition Process, has repeatedly insisted it is a necessary step for ensuring national independence. "We should sacrifice whatever seems necessary ... Afghan youths (may have to) sacrifice their lives to ensure Afghan national independence."
Plans have been made for additional equipment, training and funding for the Afghan military (ANA) and police (ANP) over the next three years. "There should be more and more efforts to reinforce ANA and ANP regarding quality and quantity," says General Atiqullah Amerkhail, military expert. "There should also be more facilities for them."
International donors have a commitment to Afghanistan. The global community will need to spend 20 billion USD to equip and train Afghan security forces for security responsibilities after 2014. However, going by past experience, there are doubts about taking financial support for granted. Can the security transition process be successful unless NATO and the US pay the enormous costs for equipping and training Afghan forces?
Ali Amiri, lecturer at Ibn-e-Sina University in Kabul believes it is very important for US-NATO to leave Afghanistan with success and not failure. "Therefore there should be necessary guarantees to ensure extending the good governance and achieving peace, democracy and stability in Afghanistan. Otherwise, withdrawal from Afghanistan will be considered a big shame and ideological failure by fundamentalists and extremists and it will encourage them to extend insurgency and violence in the country."
According to this argument, it would be in NATO and international communities' interest to ensure a smooth transition by putting in the money they've promised. Troop strength has to go up to 192,000 for the ANA and 134,000 for ANP. Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak in a speech in Panjsher province said, "Fortunately the numbers of Afghan National Army soldiers are day by day increasing and they are spreading their activities."
Defence Ministry spokesman, General Mohammad Zaher Azimi, has repeatedly said the ANA is ready to take over security responsibilities. "Afghan National Army is ready to undertake the security responsibility beside other Afghan security forces and there is no worry about handling security responsibility for the Afghan national security forces." Ministry of Defence figures show ANA has strength of 168,000. Nearly half the troops are neo-literates. "By 2011, 50 percent of ANA will be literate," says the spokesman.
Illiteracy vs. security
Minister of Interior, Besmellah Mohammadi, believes low literacy levels are affecting the ability to provide security. "More than 95 percent of new recruits in police are illiterate or they have low access to the literacy considered one of the main issues in Afghanistan's insecurity," he says. "There are plans to educate in terms of literacy, counter corruption, leadership, equipment, deployment, up to 2014, and as soon as Afghan national security forces take over security."
Since 2001, more than 17 billion USD have been spent on training an equipping the ANA.
Violence has spread in many areas where a vacuum has been caused by the transition process. For instance, some of the districts in Herat province such as Shindand are under insurgent operations and a big worry to the local government. Reports from Herat province, bordering Iran, suggest Iran is arming insurgents and illegal armed groups are fighting the Afghan government. The situation is tense in Bamyan and Panjsher provinces, which were previously considered most secure areas.
Ekramuddin Karim, governor of Panjshir, has applauded locals for cooperating with security forces to enforce security. He warned a number of troublemakers had entered from neighbouring provinces.
His counterpart in Bamiyan, Habiba Surabi, said there were not enough military and police on the ground despite apprehension among residents that the insecurity was being spread through neighbouring provinces.
How to ensure security and peace in more secure Lashgargah has become a big challenge for Afghan security forces. Time may be running out for Afghanistan, warns lecturer Ali Amiri. If Afghanistan can make a workable counterterrorism strategy that will increase political and military pressure to stop terror "we could be hopeful that US-NATO forces will not share the experience of the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan," he said.