March 21, 2006:
The Afghan army, composed now of well trained officers and troops, is being picked apart by wealthy drug gangs. It's easier to offer the troops money, than to fight with them. That's the Afghan way, and the drug kingpins are energetically buying, or, to put it more accurately, renting, soldiers. Last week, for example, Canadian troops caught an Afghan army officer, and his driver, transporting 140 pounds of heroin from Kabul to Kandahar. In addition to courier services, the most common service is information. Like when is the army going to attack a drug gangs facilities, or try and arrest drug gang leaders. This is classic operating procedures for drug gangs, and too many Afghan soldiers and policemen are willing to take the money. Naturally, all involved try to keep this bribery quiet. It really doesn't work if too much is known about it. But the effects are being felt, and the government is reluctant to use the new army units against drug gangs, and has been pressuring the U.S. and NATO to do the deed. It's much more difficult for the drug lords to bribe these foreign troops.