Leadership: Exploiting the Immigrant Mentality


March 2, 2007: Afghanistan has a warrior, not a military, tradition. Put simply, Afghans don't make great soldiers. Sure, they know how to shoot guns, and can run up and down hills with abandon, but they don't have the discipline for Western style soldiering. But that may be on account of the pay that is offered. It's only about a hundred dollars a month. While that's competitive with what most of these troops could get for civilian employment, that only works if the soldier can stay close to his family. That's a major issue with Afghans. Family is everything, because in Afghanistan, government is usually nothing, or worse than that, a dangerous foe. But NATO and American commanders have noted that many Afghan men will risk much to emigrate to foreign nations, in order to make a lot more money, and send a large chunk of it home. Out of this arose the idea of paying Afghan soldiers a lot more, like $500 a month, and attract those lads who don't mind leaving home for a long time, and are willing to take risks and try new things. That much money would enable the soldiers to send a lot more to their families. In turn, the families would tolerate the absence of their men, because the money does make a difference. On the down side, $500 a month is more than the Afghan government can afford in the long term. But if the Afghan army does not reach its target size of 70,000 troops in the next few years (it's at 32,000 now), there won't be any central government, nor any need for an army. The concept is gaining a lot of traction, but it's unclear if it will attract a sufficient amount of cash.


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