The Afghan National Army

From Dr Hamid Hussain (discussing question of whether the ANA can be resurrected? what will become of them?)

Some informed individuals asked for my two cents worth opinion about a conversation about the Afghan National Army (ANA) in a changed scenario.  One concern is that a large number of unemployed soldiers can join any faction of the war economy. It invariably resulted in comparison with the disbandment of the Iraqi army after the second Gulf war.

 

Hamid

Afghan National Army (ANA)

Thanks Sir for your email.  You raise an important point and following is my take;

“Blood cannot be washed out with blood”.   Pashto proverb

ANA had disintegrated in the aftermath of Soviet withdrawal and subsequent civil war.  New ANA post American occupation is a more recent phenomenon and has an interesting history. In the first few years after the U.S. arrival in late 2001, security was provided by militias of local warlords.  The U.S. had no initial plan for the nation building project and the Department of Defense (DOD) under Donald Rumsfeld was allergic to the whole idea. Constitution of the new Afghan government was a highly centralized template and deft Hamid Karzai had great influence on the process.  Once this centralized project was adopted, then it dawned that this will need an effective national army.  This also neatly fitted into the idea of sidelining local powerful warlords and shedding militias.  However, when the nascent structure for ANA was put in place in 2005-6, insurgency had started in Pashtun south and east.  This meant dominance of non-Pashtuns for a variety of reasons.

These non-Pashtuns had joined the U.S. quite early and had influence due to direct contact with American handlers.  As insurgency was mainly in Pashtun areas therefore there was hesitancy to recruit Pashtuns.  However, one could not do away with Pashtuns therefore Soviet era leftist officers were brought back and urban educated as well some tribal rural Pashtuns resenting Taliban dominance were recruited. Later, some of these officers were eased out again due to the influence of non-Pashtuns power brokers.  Every power player used ANA and police to fill ranks with his partisans.  This was a favor providing a secure job. During the Obama administration, ANA was expanded but rapid expansion simply provided more avenues of corruption including pocketing salaries of ‘ghost soldiers’ that only existed on army payroll.  Despite these handicaps, ANA had a reasonable structure and more importantly in view of rampant corruption in police and other government departments. ANA was held in high esteem by the general public.  More money was spent on Special Operations Forces (SOF) that were better trained, equipped & supported. Disproportionately, a large number of SOF was Uzbek, Tajik & Hazara. Continue reading The Afghan National Army