A recent report by the BBC details some of the difficulties in training and retaining Afghan recruits for the national military, where high levels of troops that go ‘absent without leave’ and wide levels of illiteracy pose serious problems towards an autonomous Afghan army. ANA currently stands ‘in theory’ at 150,000. They are trained in Kabul where 1,400 troops graduate every two weeks.
The Afghan army is expected to grow at more than 2,800 soldiers a month to meet its October 2011 target of 171,600. The police are expected to reach 134,000 by then. The overall figure is expected to keep on increasing before Afghan forces assume combat responsibility in 2014.
High desertion rates remain a constant problem. Lt Gen William Caldwell, the man in charge of NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, told a recent press conference that while 110,000 men were recruited in 2010, ‘attrition rates’ meant the real increase was a lower 70,000.
Pay, while on par with the Afghan police, is lower than what a recruit could earn by joining a PMSC or insurgent group, who pay $10 a day.
The US Congress has budgeted $12.8 billion to support Afghan national security forces for 2012.