AFGHANISTAN RESEARCH AND EVALUATION UNIT
Research for a Better Afghanistan
The Afghan National Army after ISAF
Kabul, March 9, 2016:
Afghan National Army (ANA) has experienced a very difficult situation over the past year, including facing serious problems in recruitment, mobility and leadership.
A new study by Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), analyzing the ANA after the end of ISAF mission in Afghanistan, finds that with the number of causalities mounted to dramatic levels in 2015, the ANA has for the first time begun facing serious problems in recruitment, including a mounting problem of the ghost soldiers (soldiers who are listed as being on active duty, but who do not serve).
The paper says that the withdrawal of ISAF mentors from the ANA affected the overall logistical capabilities, planning, procurement, equipment maintenance and the administration, which resulted in lesser mobility of the ANA forces, compared to that of the insurgents.
In addition to these, AREU paper finds that the tactical performance of the ANA is affected by a serious leadership problem. “Appointments to senior positions are still heavily influenced by political interference, often resulting in the appointment of incompetent commanders”, the paper says.
“As a result of all these, the moral in the ANA is in decline”, adds the paper.
The political blockage in Kabul is a major cause of the inability of the MoD to improve its capability. But there are deeper causes too. The lack of equipment has been discussed in the media for years. Other causes are related to the post-2001 political settlement, which has not been discussed in this report. The weaknesses of the logistical system have been exposed more obviously, because the much-reduced RS mission can do little to address them.
While deep reforms of the ANA are unlikely to be possible in the current emergency situation, some measures can be taken immediately to achieve rapid improvements. One, recommended by many interviewees, is the replacement of the many commanders who have not performed. However, will the National Unity Government (NUG) summon the strength to remove them, despite the political protection that they enjoy?
The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) is an independent research organisation based in Kabul. AREU’s mission is to inform and influence policy and practice through conducting high-quality, policy-relevant research and actively disseminating the results, and to promote a culture of research and learning. To achieve its mission AREU engages with policymakers, civil society, researchers, and students to promote their use of AREU’s research and its library, to strengthen their research capacity, and to create opportunities for analysis, reflection, and debate. AREU was established in 2002 by the assistance community working in Afghanistan.
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