Afghanistan: March 25, 2002


While the first battalions of the new Afghanistan army are being trained by officers and NCOs from Europe, the United States has about a 150 special forces trainers organizing a training program as well (that will start in early May.) The U.S. operation will run on a ten week cycle, turning out a battalion of troops (500-600) each cycle. It's uncertain how the officers and NCOs will be selected and trained. The Pushtuns in the south fear that the Tajiks who now dominate the Ministry of Defense will see to it that few Pushtuns get key positions.

The former king of Afghanistan has delayed is return until April. 

China has offered to provide uniforms for the new Afghan army. At the moment, Afghan troops are wearing surplus Russian army uniforms or locally manufactured uniforms arranged for by the United States. 

The special forces is getting caught in the middle of feuds among Afghan factions in eastern Afghanistan. The special forces works with whatever Afghans appear to be the most capable and reliable. But these men belong to a faction or tribe and can't avoid tribal politics (and occasional gun battles.) In a recent incident, some of the Afghans working for the special forces, fled to a special forces compound after having fired on a leader from another faction. The special forces then have to sit down with all concerned and do a lot of talking, and drink a lot of tea. 


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