Zero U.S.-Trained Afghan Army Battalions Can Operate Alone

There are more recruits, but they still need help of American forces

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Two years ago, the U.S. began accelerating its efforts to train the Afghan army to take over fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. The result? Not one battalion can operate alone without help from the U.S. or other allies, Wired's Spencer Ackerman reports.

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who's in charge of the push to train Afghan soldiers, told reporters Monday that only two battalions operate independently. But there's a catch, Ackerman explains:
Out of approximately 180 Afghan National Army battalions, only two operate "independently." Except that "independently," in Caldwell's National Training Mission-Afghanistan command, means something different than "independently" does in the States.
Those two "independent" battalions still require U.S. support for their maintenance, logistics and medical systems, Caldwell admitted when Pentagon reporters pressed him on Monday morning.
There is some good news: In less than a year, the ranks of Afghan army and police have grown from 196,508 to 305,516. And Caldwell said police are increasingly professional, citing two officers who sacrificed themselves by bear-hugging suicide bombers in Kabul earlier this month.
Still, most of the recruits can't read, Ackerman writes, which is one more reason "it'll be years before the U.S. takes its training wheels off the Afghan soldiers' bikes."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.