The New York Times has been blogging about the indisputable suckitude of the Afghan forces’ marksmanship, discipline, strategy and every other conflict-related skill you can name. And we’ve been blogging their blogging, as bloggers are wont to do. Today’s installment—Afghan Marksmanship: Pointing, Not Aiming—takes the Taliban’s enemy (a.k.a. our friends) to task for, well, everything. Again. Starting with their abject refusal to shoulder their weapons: “During one brief firefight in Marja, we watched three Afghan soldiers lean their rifles on a wall and pull the triggers one-handed, sending rounds off into the sky at about a 20-degree angle. That’s not aiming, either. It’s barely even pointing.” Moving on to obscuring their gun sights: “Look closely at the soldier’s olive-green rifle sling – it is wrapped tightly around the front sight post of his assault rifle, blocking his sight picture. This rendered the sights useless.” To firing indiscriminately . . .
On this night, the Afghan soldiers on the listening post panicked, and opened fire. For several minutes they emptied their magazines into the darkness. It developed into a roaring crescendo of fire. What they were shooting at, no one could say.
Are we done yet? In a very real sense, yes. C.J. Chivers circles back to his original point: America’s training of our Afghan allies really, really, really, REALLY sucks.
Unlike the Taliban, the Afghan Army has the backing of a large and well-off conventional military force . . . American taxpayers provide functioning equipment and underwrite formal training, along with mentoring in the field. But it is not unusual to see Afghan troops who seem, on patrol and in firefights, to have a very limited sense of basic fighting skills.
Has Mr. Chivers been handing out with British troops? That kind of understatement is normally reserved for Her Majesty’s subjects. An email sent to the NYT blogger by an American trainer tells the tale of our country’s epic failure to create a viable Afghan fighting force. What happens next is pretty easy to guess . . .
Soldiers are not required to qualify on their assigned weapon (M-16) prior to graduation. A fitness test is not required either. The list goes on and on. Soldiers “graduate” from basic and advanced training simply because they did not go AWOL. If they are present on graduation day then off they go to their units.