” WASHINGTON – One in every four combat soldiers quit the Afghan National Army (ANA) during the year ending in September, published data by the US Defense Department and the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan reveals.
That high rate of turnover in the ANA, driven by extremely high rates of desertion, spells trouble for the strategy that US President Barack Obama has reportedly decided on, which is said to include the dispatch of thousands of additional US military trainers to rapidly increase the size of the ANA.
US officials have for years touted the ANA as a success story. General Stanley A McChrystal, the top US soldier in Afghanistan, called in his August 2009 strategy paper for increasing the ANA to 134,000 troops by October 2010 and eventually to 240,000.
But an administration source, who insisted on speaking without attribution because of the sensitivity of the subject, confirmed to Inter Press Service (IPS) that 25% has been used as the turnover rate for the ANA in internal discussions, and that it is regarded by some officials as a serious problem.
The 35,000 troops recruited in the year ending September 1 is the highest by the ANA in any year thus far, but the net increase of 19,000 troops for the year is 33% less than the 26,000 net increases during both of the previous two years.
Those figures indicate that the rate of turnover in the ANA is accelerating rather than slowing down. That acceleration could increase further, as the number of troops whose three-year enlistment contracts end rises rapidly in the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department (DoD) sought to obscure the problem of the high ANA turnover rate in its reports to the US Congress on Afghanistan in January and June 2009, which avoided the issues of attrition and desertion entirely. “
Source: Asia Times.