Although Afghan forces have already demonstrated improvement in their overall combat ability, recent operations in the Kunar Province show they lack strong logistical support, a problem which officials hope to remedy by increasing Afghan Special Forces operations in rural areas in order to secure infrastructure and necessary human personnel.
The actions of Afghan Special Forces and their coalition partners have resonated strongly with conventional infantry units, who view the commandos as inspirational and patriotic amid widespread corruption and desertion within the Afghan military. NATO agreed last May to continue funding the commandos until 2017 with the hope that their contributions to the war effort will continue to raise morale.
As part of the same effort, the Afghan Ministry of Defense announced last week they would begin retiring high-ranking military officers who have served past the time set forth by their government contracts later this month. Although some Afghan soldiers have expressed concern that this decision may reduce the army’s effectiveness, Afghan officials hope that it will encourage younger officers to improve their leadership skills.
Since 2008, the International Security Assistance Force has gradually increased the number of Pashtun military leaders in order to reduce ethnic tension within the army. ISAF hopes that the younger, more charismatic leaders will help discourage corrupt activities and forge motivational bonds with their troops that many soldiers within the army find lacking.
With the Taliban’s annual spring offensive reaching its climax, NATO leaders watch nervously as the Afghan National Army stands to showcase its capabilities for the first time.