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Coalition success in Afghanistan; the Afghan Sandhurst

Ann Marlowe reports in the (subscribers only) Wall Street Journal yesterday, “The Afghan National Army is one of the unqualified success stories of coalition-nation building efforts.”

You recall that the NATO-led Coalition went into Afghanistan after Al Qaeda, harboured by the Taliban, executed 9-11. The Taliban’s human rights abuses, such as the stoning of women and beheading of homosexuals, had previously denied it entry to the United Nations.

Afghans led by Ahmad Shah Masoud had tried to defeat the Taliban between 1997 and 2000. The arrival of the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and NATO forces in 2001 defeated the Taliban but not the subsequent insurgency, and operations continue.

Meanwhile the Afghan National Army (ANA) is being trained by US and British forces, and is now 50,000 strong. Marlowe says that it “represents a sea change in Afghan military culture. Instructors are no longer allowed to hit the students, and the laws of war are taught early on.” Particular attention is paid to ethnic balance and literacy. There is a British-run officer training school, established in 2006, that is based on Sandhurst, and an academy modeled on West Point.

“Since April, the ANA has not lost an engagement” with the Taliban.

(Note: The WSJ piece appeared yesterday, not today, as I originally noted.)