Leadership: The King of Spain's Afghan Rifles


August 18, 2007: Spanish troops in Afghanistan have
adopted a novel, but ancient, technique in order to get some local help in
pacifying the area they are in. Spain has asked the government to allow Spain
to pay for the recruitment, training, equipping and maintenance of an Afghan
infantry battalion. This could cost Spain about $27 million, and Afghanistan
would be responsible for the unit after the Spanish left. Through much of
Spain's (and Europe's) history it was common for a wealthy individual, or
locality, to similarly raise a military unit. Whoever recruited, trained and
paid the unit was thus assured of its loyalty and ability. This is apparently
what the Spaniards have in mind. The 700 Spanish troops are stationed in
northwestern Afghanistan, which has been pretty quiet. So quiet that there are
no Afghan army troops in the area. The Spanish proposal would change that, and
insure that the area stayed peaceful.


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