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Lessons Learned in U.S. Nation-Building Efforts
- Many factors -- such as prior democratic experience, level of economic development, and social homogeneity -- can influence the ease or difficulty of nation-building, but the single most important controllable determinant seems to be the level of effort, as measured in troops, money, and time.
- Multilateral nation-building is more complex and time-consuming than a unilateral approach. But the multilateral approach is considerably less expensive for individual participants.
- Multilateral nation-building can produce more thorough transformations and greater regional reconciliation than can unilateral efforts.
- Unity of command is as essential in peace operations as it is in war. This unity of command can be achieved even in operations with broad multilateral participation when the major participants share a common vision and tailor the response of international institutions accordingly.
- There appears to be an inverse correlation between the size of the military stabilization force and the level of casualties. The higher the proportion of troops relative to the resident population, the lower the number of casualties suffered and inflicted. Indeed, most of the post-conflict operations that were generously manned suffered no casualties at all.
- Neighboring states can exert significant influence, for good or bad. It is nearly impossible to put together a fragmented nation if its neighbors try to tear it apart. Every effort should be made to secure their support.
- Accountability for past injustices can be a powerful component of democratization. Such accountability can be among the most difficult and controversial aspects of any nation-building endeavor, however, and therefore should be attempted only if there is a deep and long-term commitment to the overall operation.
- There is no quick fix for nation-building. None of our cases was successfully completed in less than seven years.
Reliability of Afghan army called into question by Pentagon
By Ben Farmer in Kabul and James Kirkup Published: 7:00AM BST 14 Jul 2010 Telegraph
Raising the competence of the force is central to the entire Nato strategy for Afghanistan. Western nations have said they will withdraw their forces only when the Afghans can secure the country themselves.
With the Afghan National Police widely regarded as corrupt and unreliable, even greater importance rests on the Afghan National Army (ANA).
Nato leaders have repeatedly claimed that the ANA is making excellent progress, but those claims have been questioned by a US government audit.
Arnold Fields, the US Defense Department’s inspector general for Afghanistan, concluded that the capabilities of many “top-rated” ANA units have been “overstated” by Nato commanders.
Several ANA units officially passed as able to operate without international support or guidance have not proved they are capable of independent operations, the auditor found in a report last month.
Nato admits that Afghan forces remain totally reliant on Nato for air support and artillery, for medical evacuation from the battlefield and often for supplies.
The audit’s findings are echoed by Nato commanders in the field.
Many Nato troops have hair-raising stories of careless young Afghan soldiers accidentally firing their weapons, including rocket launchers.
Commanders in the field have also occasionally questioned the Afghans’ commitment.
On a recent visit to the Babaji area of Helmand, where yesterday’s shooting took place, The Daily Telegraph saw Afghan troops refuse to carry their own food or water on patrol and demand that Gurkhas supply them instead.
Some Afghan soldiers also refuse to patrol at night or in the heat of midday. One British officer said: “The Afghan soldiers and police like to have fresh food. They are fixed to their meal times. Sometimes they have been out on patrol and said 'It’s lunchtime, it’s over’ .”
There are currently about 119,000 members of the ANA. To allow the transfer of security duties, Nato has set a target of 171,000, due to be reached by 2014. That means an accelerated process that sees new recruits given two months’ basic training before being assigned to units, often formed from scratch.
Prof Michael Clarke of the Royal United Services Institute said a few units are of good quality but, because of the short training period for rank-and-file soldiers, “the quality is always going to be patchy”.
There are questions about the commitment of the ANA and Prof Clarke estimated that one in ten newly trained ANA soldiers go absent without leave.
British officers training the ANA say that there is a particular shortage of non-commissioned officers, the sergeants and sergeants-major who are the backbone of any modern army.
Paul Flynn, a Labour backbencher and critic of the Afghan war, described the ANA as “a group of drug-addicted mercenaries” that could not be trusted.
He said: “Its members have little or no loyalty to their election-rigging president, their own government or international governments. Why on earth do we expect to build a stable Afghanistan on that crumbling foundation?