Colombiaâ€™s lessons for Afghanistan
What can officials charged with building Afghanistanâ€™s army learn from Colombia?
Assisted by a small group of U.S. trainers, Colombia has focused on selecting quality leaders, training Colombiaâ€™s non-commissioned officer corps, and developing specialized rather than general purpose combat units within the professional portion of the army.
1. Quality beats quantity. General McChrystal seeks to increase the size of the Afghan army from 92,000 to 134,000 by October 2010 and later to 240,000.22 In Colombia, by contrast, a professional army of just 86,000 has crushed a large and stubborn insurgency and essentially pacified a country as rugged and almost twice the size of Afghanistan….
2. An Afghan helicopter force. Like Colombia, Afghanistan faces the challenge of finding and massing against insurgent forces in difficult terrain. Colombia established a large helicopter force to bring mobility to its highly trained professional army and to evacuate casualties from the battlefield. Instead of focusing on raising the Afghan armyâ€™s headcount, U.S. military assistance should emphasize this aspect of combat support.
3. Develop local security forces. A current problem with Afghanistanâ€™s army (and formerly a problem in Colombia) was the unwillingness of many soldiers to serve far from their home villages and districts…Instead of expanding the size of the Afghan national army, the Afghan government should permit (and fund) district and provincial governors to form such home guard units for local defense.
2010-01-12 05:18:38 UTC