So this is my first entry, and I've already decided to steal an idea from a fellow blogger. Celestial Junk Blog has been one of my favorite blogs and the first one I started reading on a regular basis. Their current entry deals with the Afghan National Army, or ANA. Since this is something I have a bit of experience with, I figured it was as good a place to start as any.
In the years since the start of the war in Afghanistan, the ANA has gone from a rag tag group of mostly boys with little to no skills and no real leadership(save the Special Operations advisers that were training them, who are outstanding) to a cohesive military. The following is part of what I posted in the comments section over at CJunk:
It's great to see the ANA continue to become an effective fighting force. I remember being there in '03. The ANA were more like a group of children playing than a cohesive military. The AMF did most of the fighting for the Afghani's. I have to say, at that point, I was concerned about the future of the Afghan military.When I redeployed in '05, it was a completely different force. The ANA were able to plan and execute their own missions and patrols, with little to no help from any of the allied military units(except air cover of course) And their soldiers were capable of fighting and defeating the enemy.
The ANA has truly come a long way since their first faltering steps(some of you who have been deployed there may disagree. This is only from my personal experience, and I know some have a far different opinion on the effectiveness of the ANA). They are still are still a long way from being truly able to manage and defend the country, but they have made great strides. They have come to trust the US military, and are understandably concerned with the planned handover of the South to NATO control. However, I believe that they will come to trust the Canadian troops in the same way. This is another part of my post to CJunk:
The Afghan people are a tough people. They have been through wars for a very long time. They know the price of failure in this one.....Having met and worked with many Canadian units, and having many Canadian friends in the military......I have no doubt that the ANA will develop the same trust in the Canadian military. Canadian soldiers are some of the best warfighters in the world, and I wish that more of the Canadian public would support them on this important endeavor, and not just wish for a more "noble" peacekeeping mission.
I believe this to my very core. Canadian infantrymen are some of the most well trained, highly motivated soldiers out there(maybe not the best equipped, but that's a post for another time. Hopefully SH sees the needs of the CAF and at least attempts to fix them with whatever means he has at his disposal) A Canadian even holds the current record for longest confirmed kill. These soldiers deserve to be mentioned with the elite militaries today. Of course Canadians are known as exceptional peacekeepers. They are very good at it. But they are also tremendous war fighters. I truly believe if the majority of the Canadian people could see the exceptional abilities of the Canadian soldiers, and they and the American public could see the progress that Canadian and US forces are making, they would support the mission wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately, the media(Canadian especially, but the US certainly isn't immune) are too busy with the "Death Watch" to get out and get a truly accurate picture of the country. Of course, this goes right along with their defeatist attitude, and the fact that they seem to want their predictions of impending doom to come true. Most of the Afghani people are happy we're there, and want us to stay. Sadly, this majority is not as interesting or as "news worthy" as the vocal minority. An interview with a mullah or government official that talks about throwing out the American invaders and killing infidels, is much more interesting(or at least that's what the media believe) than an interview with a goat herder that tells you how much better life is now.
I remember a conversation I had with an afghani man in a small village. At this point we were working with the Canadians(sorry, can't remember what unit) and I was talking with one of my Canadian mates. An afghani wandered over and we started talking to him. He spoke remarkably good english. He told us he was going to enlist in the ANA in a couple of days. He also said, and I'm paraphrasing here, but the gist of his words were "The Americans and Canadians must stay in Afghanistan. Our lives are much better. We don't live in fear anymore. If you leave before the country and military are completely back on their feet and able to stand on their own, the Taliban will come back, and it will start all over again. You must stay, even if it takes 10 years. Please, you must stay. You are great friends to the Afghani people" I have to admit, my friend and I were slightly choked up after this conversation. But the point remains. The Afghani people are truly happier and better off now than they have been in a long time. I know that Canadian and US troops, as well as the Afghani people, have the will and the courage to stay the course and finish the job. I just hope that the general public in the US and Canada have the same will and courage.