April 3, 2002
The first battalion of the new Afghan army has completed it's basic training. These 600 men will be assigned to Kabul and will guard government officials and buildings. Current plans call for a 68,000 man army. But without more trainers, it will take up to five years to reach full strength. There will be a lot of pressure to simply hire untrained men to fill units. But the only way to develop a professional, reliable military force is to take the time to train the troops and officers. But until such a force is available, the government will have to depend on foreign troops to deal with major warlord confrontations. The government also plans to recruit and train a 12,000 man border guard and a 74,000 man national police force. The cops require training even more, for the Afghan police have historically been notoriously corrupt and unreliable. Current estimates of organized warlord forces are 70,000 men. These have to be disarmed, or trained for the new army or police force.
One of the problems with training new troops, or doing any other form of reconstruction, is the lack of basic services. For example, at the moment, only about six percent of the population has access to a regular supply of electricity. Foreign troops have to bring their own generators, and a supply of fuel to keep them going.
British Royal Marine Commandoes began arriving in Kabul. It will take over a week for the entire force of 1700 to arrive.