Desertions from the Afghan National Army which had hit a high of 35% at one time are likely to be around 24% for 2011. In other words, one in four Afghan soldiers will defect this year. And this is the army which will take on the Taliban when the Americans leave! If I were Karzai, I’d book that one-way ticket to New York or London or any other country that will take him in, right away.
Various reasons have been cited for this rate of attrition. Apparently, the most important is a long-standing Afghan policy that prohibits punishment of deserters. I wonder what the Taliban does with its deserters. Other reasons include poor living conditions, commanders who do not allow a regular vacation schedule and poor leadership.
Maybe it is time the Coalition acknowledged that Afghans are yet to accept the idea of a united Afghanistan or a common army for all tribes. Maybe it is time to examine the option of handing over power to local warlords (choose the most liberal ones available), disband the ANA and leave as soon as possible. I mean, there’s precious little to be gained by staying on.