Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Afghanistan: A headless army fights badly - Afghan military selling weapons to Taliban

Musa Khan Jalalzai
Last week, Afghan military commanders in Helmand province admitted that their colleagues were selling weapons to Taliban.
In 2017, the challenges of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) may possibly be their wide-ranging differences with the US army on its long-term negligence and reluctance to adorn it with modern weapons. Afghans complain that the US army often stopped attempts of arming Afghan army by some friendly states, and even bombed its units on many occasions. The ANA leadership, political parties, and parliamentarians have often expressed concern against the under-equipment campaign of US and NATO military leadership to keep Afghan army dependent on their financial and military resources for a long time. They say that international military commanders never shared their military plans with the Afghan Security Forces (ANSF) or at least share plans ahead of the operation fearing that the ANSF might tip off the insurgents. They never tried to provide better training to Afghan soldiers and officers, or fit the NDS to the fight against insurgents during the last 15 years war in Afghanistan. At the ANA squad, company and platoon levels, tactical training remains inconsistent in all units, and its leadership is unable to move its forces freely across the country. Cooperation between US army, NATO, ANA and civilian leadership is still a bigger challenge to its existence. This resentment of the US commanders towards the ANA forces raised many questions including complaints that the ANA generals are being treated by US and NATO commanders as inferiors at best and enemies at worst.
Deputy Director of research at the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies (CAPS), Dr. Zubair Popalzai in his recent paper (Insider Attacks: Some Perspectives of the Afghan Security Forces) noted the complaints of Afghan military and police officers that they were not even provided the same quality of medical treatment and care in the US-run hospitals, and even not being airlifted when wounded in the battlefield. “They have, instead, shown preference for treatment in Afghan National army hospitals where they say the chances of their limbs getting amputated are low” Dr. Zubair Popalzai also noted resentment of Afghan Security Forces towards NATO and US forces: “Resentment on the Afghan side range from issues related to honour and dignity such as insult, profanity and generally being vulgar to ANSF members, publicly searching and disarming ANSF members when they enter coalition military bases, coalition convoys not allowing traffic including ANSF vehicles to pass while the former are using the road to other such cultural issues as indecent exposure while urinating in public or urinating in stream water, arrogance, breaking doors before someone can answer, unnecessarily shooting animals spatially barking dogs even when they are tied......”.
The attitude of the Unity Government is also understandable form the fact that President Ghani and his Chief Executive Mr. Abdullah never attempted to equip and adorn ANA with modern weapons, or request the United States and its NATO allies for sophisticated weapons to make the operational mechanism of the army more effective against the unending insurgency in the country. Afghan President has also been reluctant to support his army against Daesh terrorist group and Taliban, and never changed his soft-corner towards Taliban and his colleague war criminals. The President’s resentment towards the Afghan armed forces is evident from the complaints raised by parliamentarians and civil society that his Ministries, parliamentarians, governors and elements with the Defence and Interior Ministries were arming Taliban and Daesh forces across the country. These questions were also raised by Deputy Speaker of Afghan Parliament, Zahir Qadir who openly accused national security advisor, Mr. Hanif Atmar of providing arms and financial assistance to Islamic States in 2016.
The growing military and political influence of Daesh in Afghanistan, and Taliban’s influence in the south means that the government and its allies have failed to bring stability to Afghanistan. On 01 Mach 2017, Taliban attacked Afghan capital, in which military recruitment centre was targeted. Taliban claimed that several people were killed and wounded. In an attack Taliban targeted a unit intelligence office. Last week, a Pandora’s Box opened when Afghan Security Forces besieged the house of Vice President Dostum due to his criticism of the wrongly designed ethnic strategy of the unity government. In October 2016, a number of Afghan law makers also accused President Ghani and his Defence Ministry for supporting terrorist organisations like ISIS and Taliban. They alleged that military commanders were providing arms, financial assistance and sanctuaries to terrorist groups, and transported their suicide bombers to their destinations. Miss Fatima Aziz, an MP from the Kunduz province, accused some police and military commanders for facilitating Taliban against ANA positions. “All Afghan officials in the Kunduz province, including the ANA, police and local government officials in cooperation with the people from central government, handed the city to the Taliban,” said Fatima Aziz.
Last week, Afghan military commanders in Helmand province admitted that their colleagues were selling weapons to Taliban. Afghan National army (ANA) spokesman said that the sellers of heavy weapons were their military commanders who had open access to weapon depots. Since 2015, Afghan soldiers and police officers faced many challenges including the delay of their salaries, logistic and air support in the battlefield. The issues of insider attacks, weapon smuggling, child sexual abuse and desertion badly affected the image of ANA leadership in the eyes of civil society. Weapons purveyance to enemy to feed their children and taking arms against their own officers in cities and towns are stories that deeply affected the unity of their command and loyalty to the state. In February 2016, the ANA arrested and disarmed 30 cops with alleged Taliban ties, including the police chief of Helmand’s Sangin district. Drug trafficking is another serious challenge where, according to the Russian Narcotics Agency report, almost a third of the ANA officers turned to drug trafficking. Army generals and officers have been deeply involved in drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom during the last ten years. An Afghan parliament told this scribe that some states provide weapons to Daesh terrorist group. The access of this terrorist group to American weapons is also matter of great concern. On 31 August 2016, Bakhtar News Agency reported Pentagon admitted the access of Islamic State to the US army weapons in Afghanistan.

No comments: