Afghanistan — No Trainers, No Transition

In the past ten months there has been mea­sured progress in the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Force (ANSF); in qual­i­ty as well as quan­ti­ty. Since last Novem­ber, NATO Train­ing Mis­sion Afghanistan has sup­port­ed the Afghan Min­istries of Inte­ri­or and Defense to recruit, train and assign over 100,000 sol­diers and police, an incred­i­ble feat. To achieve this, the train­ing capac­i­ty was increased, mov­ing from under 10,000 seats for police train­ing alone to almost 15,000.

Kabul Military Training Center
Kab­ul — Afghan Nation­al Army offi­cer trainees run through a build­ing clear­ing exer­cise at the Kab­ul Mil­i­tary Train­ing Cen­ter
Source: NATO
Click to enlarge

Qual­i­ty improved, as well. The instruc­tor to trainee ratio decreased from 1:76 to 1:29, great­ly increas­ing the abil­i­ty of train­ers to give atten­tion to indi­vid­u­als. Improve­ments like this led to an improved basic rifle qual­i­fi­ca­tion rate; increas­ing from an embar­rass­ing 35% to 97%. To tru­ly pro­fes­sion­al­ize the force, how­ev­er, will require even more atten­tion to qual­i­ty in the force – and train­ers with spe­cial­ized skills are required to accom­plish this. 

In order to devel­op the sys­tems and insti­tu­tions that are required to con­tin­ue to pro­fes­sion­al­ize and grow the ANSF, spe­cial­ty train­ing is required. Schools that teach skills like acqui­si­tions, logis­tics, main­te­nance, intel­li­gence, and even field artillery are need­ed to bal­ance a cur­rent­ly infantry-cen­tric force. Addi­tion­al­ly, leader devel­op­ment cours­es like the police staff col­lege, police and army offi­cer can­di­date schools, and var­i­ous non-com­mis­sioned offi­cer devel­op­ment cours­es are need­ed. All of these spe­cial­ty skills require train­ers with the req­ui­site skills – train­ers that can only be found in the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty. Over the next ten months, our require­ment for these train­ers will dou­ble, with need­ed skill sets rang­ing from Mi-17 heli­copter pilots and main­tain­ers to doc­tors, police train­ers to instruc­tors at the sig­nal school. 

Kabul Military Training Center
Afghan Nation­al Army sol­diers take part in a com­bined gradu­tion cer­e­mo­ny at the Kab­ul Mil­i­tary Train­ing Cen­ter July 29, 2010
Source: NATO
Click to enlarge

The impacts of not sourc­ing our train­er require­ments are that train­ing base expan­sions to increase capac­i­ty are hin­dered, spe­cial­ty school devel­op­ment will be delayed, pace of spe­cial­ty skills devel­op­ment will be slowed, and the pro­fes­sion­al­iza­tion of the ANSF will be ham­pered. Essen­tial­ly, the process of tran­si­tion to the ANSF will be delayed; as the Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of NATO said recent­ly, “no train­ers, no transition.”

If we do not resource the train­ing mis­sion in Afghanistan, we will not be able to achieve our goals for increased quan­ti­ty and improved qual­i­ty. We must not allow that to hap­pen. We need to sus­tain the momen­tum we have achieved in the past ten months so that we cap­i­tal­ize on our achieve­ments thus far. To cre­ate Afghan capac­i­ty that is endur­ing and self-sus­tain­ing we must pro­fes­sion­al­ize the police, army, and air forces; cre­ate viable logis­tics and med­ical sys­tems; and improve the infra­struc­ture and the insti­tu­tions that train and edu­cate them…above all, we MUST have the train­ers to devel­op them. 

Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al William B. Cald­well, IV
Com­man­der, NATO Train­ing Mis­sion – Afghanistan (NTM‑A) / Com­man­der, Com­bined Secu­ri­ty Tran­si­tion Com­mand – Afghanistan (CSTC‑A)

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