Mon, Jun 17, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Back to basics as Afghan troops face testing times

AFP, MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan

National police and army casualties have increased by between 15 and 20 percent since 2011, officials say, and the Taliban are predicted to step up attacks through the summer and before elections, due early next year.

One sign of optimism has been the success of rapid-reaction forces when attacks have penetrated Kabul.

Their performance was hailed after the Taliban launched an attack on an International Organization for Migration compound last month in a battle that lasted seven hours, and also when militants fired grenades at Kabul airport on Monday last week.

However, training standards are less impressive outside the capital, and the police retain a reputation for corruption, inefficiency, drug-taking and sexual abuse.

Despite the withdrawal of 100,000 NATO combat troops, who support Afghans in the fight against insurgent groups, the conflict is likely to last for years.

Colonel Max Lindner, the senior NATO mentor at Camp Shaheen, hopes the new military school will cement the lessons that have been learned.

“It will be a unique, modern facility to help Afghans gain skills to improve their security,” he said. “This is the future for their army.”

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