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Afghan National Army

The Afghan National Army is being developed by the United States, France and Britain to take primary responsibility for land-based military operations.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai set a goal of an army of 70,000 men by 2009, but by January, 2003, just over 1,700 men in five battalions have completed the 10-week training course. Problems lay in recruitment and desertions, the lack of cooperation from regional warlords and of committed international support.

In attempts to create an army that is ethnically balanced, regional commanders were asked to contribute recruits. However, Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ismail Khan were unwilling to make such concessions.

In spite of promises for decent salaries, soldiers in the new Army initially received only $30 a month during training and $50 after graduation, although pay for trained soldiers rose to $70.

Some of the recruits were under 18 years of age and most could not read or write. Recruits who spoke only Pashto had difficulties because instructions were given through interpreters who spoke Dari (the national language).

Also, to thwart and dissolve localized militias, the Afghan government offered cash and vocational training for members to disarm.

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