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Afghanistan: Holding the line

What are the challenges facing the Afghan army as it prepares to take over responsibility for the country's security?
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2012 17:24

As the 2014 withdrawal draws closer, and the US-led coalition prepares to hand power over to the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), filmmaker John D McHugh spent nearly a month in Afghanistan looking at the ANA's training in Kabul and in Helmand. What he found was an infantry army ready to fight, but a belief amongst those soldiers that they lack the equipment and logistics to hold the line.


John D McHugh/John D McHugh
When the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, many wonder if the country's own forces will be able to hold the line against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Helmand, November 20, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
In order to be able to leave and not have Afghanistan collapse immediately on their departure, the Americans announced at the end of 2009 that the size of the ANA would be increased to almost 200,000 soldiers. Helmand, November 17, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
A huge recruitment and training drive began, with new military training centres being set up around the country to facilitate the explosion in numbers. Helmand, November 17, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
As the soldiers come to the end of their training cycle, they take their soldier's oath. Helmand, November 8, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
Placing their hands on a Quran, they take an oath to defend Afghanistan at the Regional Training Centre in Helmand on November 8, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
There is no doubt that this huge new army is plagued with problems, but by far the biggest is the sheer turnover of men - currently running at about 30 per cent a year so the ANA has to find replacements for around 60,000 men every year.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
Desertion rates are high: By the Afghan Defence Ministry's own admission, every year 7-10 per cent of troops just walk out. Helmand on November 11, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
The casualty rate is high, with more than 850 soldiers confirmed killed in 2012 alone, and a great many more wounded. Helmand, November 11, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
As the ANA takes over the lead role in providing security throughout Afghanistan in 2013, both figures are expected to increase dramatically.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
Recently, almost all social interaction between coalition troops and the ANA has seized because of the rapid rise of what is known as 'green on blue attacks'. Helmand, November 13, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
The Taliban routinely claim responsibility for all these assaults, reinforcing the perception in the West that the Afghans cannot be trusted. Helmand, November 17, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
As the US-led coalition prepares to hand power over to the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), many soldiers believe that they lack the equipment and logistics to hold the line.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
The ANA still depends on the US-led coalition for logistics, maintenance, intelligence-gathering and analysis, artillery and air support, medical evacuation and more. Helmand, November 20, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
Many soldiers complain that the M-16 is an ineffective weapon in Afghanistan, prone to malfunction and misfire due to the build up of dirt, whereas the Afghan soldiers' old weapon, the AK-47 was able to continue working in the worst of conditions.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
The AK-47 is widely-used by the Taliban, so the ammunition for it is readily available. If an ANA soldier deserts to the Taliban he will struggle to find bullets for his M-16. Cynics in the ANA say that they are being forced to fight with a rifle that jams, purely because their allies want to stop it of being any use to the other side. Helmand, November 10, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
After years of playing a support role of the coalition forces, the Afghan army now has to get ready to hold the line on its own. Helmand, November 11, 2012.
John D McHugh/John D McHugh
But how can the Afghan army, however dedicated, achieve what the far greater resourced "Coalition of the Willing" has failed to do over the past 11 years?
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images:
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captions:
When the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, many wonder if the country(***)s own forces will be able to hold the line against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Helmand, November 20, 2012.;*;In order to be able to leave and not have Afghanistan collapse immediately on their departure, the Americans announced at the end of 2009 that the size of the ANA would be increased to almost 200,000 soldiers. Helmand, November 17, 2012.;*;A huge recruitment and training drive began, with new military training centres being set up around the country to facilitate the explosion in numbers. Helmand, November 17, 2012.;*;As the soldiers come to the end of their training cycle, they take their soldier(***)s oath. Helmand, November 8, 2012.;*;Placing their hands on a Quran, they take an oath to defend Afghanistan at the Regional Training Centre in Helmand on November 8, 2012. ;*;There is no doubt that this huge new army is plagued with problems, but by far the biggest is the sheer turnover of men - currently running at about 30 per cent a year so the ANA has to find replacements for around 60,000 men every year. ;*;Desertion rates are high: By the Afghan Defence Ministry(***)s own admission, every year 7-10 per cent of troops just walk out. Helmand on November 11, 2012.;*;The casualty rate is high, with more than 850 soldiers confirmed killed in 2012 alone, and a great many more wounded. Helmand, November 11, 2012. ;*;As the ANA takes over the lead role in providing security throughout Afghanistan in 2013, both figures are expected to increase dramatically.;*;Recently, almost all social interaction between coalition troops and the ANA has seized because of the rapid rise of what is known as (***)green on blue attacks(***). Helmand, November 13, 2012.;*;The Taliban routinely claim responsibility for all these assaults, reinforcing the perception in the West that the Afghans cannot be trusted. Helmand, November 17, 2012.;*;As the US-led coalition prepares to hand power over to the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), many soldiers believe that they lack the equipment and logistics to hold the line. ;*;The ANA still depends on the US-led coalition for logistics, maintenance, intelligence-gathering and analysis, artillery and air support, medical evacuation and more. Helmand, November 20, 2012.;*;Many soldiers complain that the M-16 is an ineffective weapon in Afghanistan, prone to malfunction and misfire due to the build up of dirt, whereas the Afghan soldiers(***) old weapon, the AK-47 was able to continue working in the worst of conditions.;*;The AK-47 is widely-used by the Taliban, so the ammunition for it is readily available. If an ANA soldier deserts to the Taliban he will struggle to find bullets for his M-16. Cynics in the ANA say that they are being forced to fight with a rifle that jams, purely because their allies want to stop it of being any use to the other side. Helmand, November 10, 2012.;*;After years of playing a support role of the coalition forces, the Afghan army now has to get ready to hold the line on its own. Helmand, November 11, 2012.;*;But how can the Afghan army, however dedicated, achieve what the far greater resourced "Coalition of the Willing" has failed to do over the past 11 years? Daylife ID:
1355321868921
Photographer:
John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh
Image Source:
John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh;*;John D McHugh
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-preparesAs the 2014 withdrawal draws closer, and the US-led coalition prepares to hand power over to the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), John D McHugh spent nearly a month in Afghanistan looking at the ANA's training, in Kabul and in Helmand. What he found was an infantry army ready to fight, but a belief amongst those soldiers that they lack the equipment and logistics to hold the line.en-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:17:49 GMTSun, 16 Dec 2012 16:23:22 GMTAfghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=00g859J1Dth2A

When the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, many wonder if the country's own forces will be able to hold the line against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Helmand, November 20, 2012.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:24:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=00g859J1Dth2AJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

When the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, many wonder if the country's own forces will be able to hold the line against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Helmand, November 20, 2012.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=02JWgVi39Z7qVIn order to be able to leave and not have Afghanistan collapse immediately on their departure, the Americans announced at the end of 2009 that the size of the ANA would be increased to almost 200,000 soldiers. Helmand, November 17, 2012.Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:24:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=02JWgVi39Z7qVJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload ImagesIn order to be able to leave and not have Afghanistan collapse immediately on their departure, the Americans announced at the end of 2009 that the size of the ANA would be increased to almost 200,000 soldiers. Helmand, November 17, 2012.Afghanistan: An army preparesAfghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=06PC44IgpFgl5A huge recruitment and training drive began, with new military training centres being set up around the country to facilitate the explosion in numbers. Helmand, November 17, 2012.Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:23:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=06PC44IgpFgl5John D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA huge recruitment and training drive began, with new military training centres being set up around the country to facilitate the explosion in numbers. Helmand, November 17, 2012.Afghanistan: An army preparesAfghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0bJBeAd0PpgmZ

As the soldiers come to the end of their training cycle, they take their soldier's oath. Helmand, November 8, 2012.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:22:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0bJBeAd0PpgmZJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

As the soldiers come to the end of their training cycle, they take their soldier's oath. Helmand, November 8, 2012.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0bud4KI0ae5ah

Placing their hands on a Quran, they take an oath to defend Afghanistan at the Regional Training Centre in Helmand on November 8, 2012.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:22:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0bud4KI0ae5ahJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

Placing their hands on a Quran, they take an oath to defend Afghanistan at the Regional Training Centre in Helmand on November 8, 2012.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=04vM6rJfvudEUThere is no doubt that this huge new army is plagued with problems, but by far the biggest is the sheer turnover of men - currently running at about 30 per cent a year so the ANA has to find replacements for around 60,000 men every year. Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:24:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=04vM6rJfvudEUJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThere is no doubt that this huge new army is plagued with problems, but by far the biggest is the sheer turnover of men - currently running at about 30 per cent a year so the ANA has to find replacements for around 60,000 men every year. Afghanistan: An army preparesAfghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0eJmfbr3601pW

Desertion rates are high: By the Afghan Defence Ministry's own admission, every year 7-10 per cent of troops just walk out. Helmand on November 11, 2012.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:23:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0eJmfbr3601pWJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

Desertion rates are high: By the Afghan Defence Ministry's own admission, every year 7-10 per cent of troops just walk out. Helmand on November 11, 2012.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=07Qe0VM0ay56uThe casualty rate is high, with more than 850 soldiers confirmed killed in 2012 alone, and a great many more wounded. Helmand, November 11, 2012. Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:23:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=07Qe0VM0ay56uJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe casualty rate is high, with more than 850 soldiers confirmed killed in 2012 alone, and a great many more wounded. Helmand, November 11, 2012. Afghanistan: An army preparesAfghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0b2mbfEg8UbexAs the ANA takes over the lead role in providing security throughout Afghanistan in 2013, both figures are expected to increase dramatically.Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:22:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0b2mbfEg8UbexJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload ImagesAs the ANA takes over the lead role in providing security throughout Afghanistan in 2013, both figures are expected to increase dramatically.Afghanistan: An army preparesAfghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0eQkeoGdju8Ks

Recently, almost all social interaction between coalition troops and the ANA has seized because of the rapid rise of what is known as 'green on blue attacks'. Helmand, November 13, 2012.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:23:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0eQkeoGdju8KsJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

Recently, almost all social interaction between coalition troops and the ANA has seized because of the rapid rise of what is known as 'green on blue attacks'. Helmand, November 13, 2012.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=06Wj7dSfq7euM

The Taliban routinely claim responsibility for all these assaults, reinforcing the perception in the West that the Afghans cannot be trusted. Helmand, November 17, 2012.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:24:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=06Wj7dSfq7euMJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

The Taliban routinely claim responsibility for all these assaults, reinforcing the perception in the West that the Afghans cannot be trusted. Helmand, November 17, 2012.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=02e7bEPeAraqa

As the US-led coalition prepares to hand power over to the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), many soldiers believe that they lack the equipment and logistics to hold the line.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:23:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=02e7bEPeAraqaJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

As the US-led coalition prepares to hand power over to the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), many soldiers believe that they lack the equipment and logistics to hold the line.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=03C1axzeUjcio

The ANA still depends on the US-led coalition for logistics, maintenance, intelligence-gathering and analysis, artillery and air support, medical evacuation and more. Helmand, November 20, 2012.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:24:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=03C1axzeUjcioJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

The ANA still depends on the US-led coalition for logistics, maintenance, intelligence-gathering and analysis, artillery and air support, medical evacuation and more. Helmand, November 20, 2012.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=03Nh4MF7xndg9Many soldiers complain that the M-16 is an ineffective weapon in Afghanistan, prone to malfunction and misfire due to the build up of dirt, whereas the Afghan soldiers' old weapon, the AK-47 was able to continue working in the worst of conditions.Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:24:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=03Nh4MF7xndg9John D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload ImagesMany soldiers complain that the M-16 is an ineffective weapon in Afghanistan, prone to malfunction and misfire due to the build up of dirt, whereas the Afghan soldiers' old weapon, the AK-47 was able to continue working in the worst of conditions.Afghanistan: An army preparesAfghanistan: An army preparesghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=01Zi1dW0pF5fXThe AK-47 is widely-used by the Taliban, so the ammunition for it is readily available. If an ANA soldier deserts to the Taliban he will struggle to find bullets for his M-16. Cynics in the ANA say that they are being forced to fight with a rifle that jams, purely because their allies want to stop it of being any use to the other side. Helmand, November 10, 2012.Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:22:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=01Zi1dW0pF5fXJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe AK-47 is widely-used by the Taliban, so the ammunition for it is readily available. If an ANA soldier deserts to the Taliban he will struggle to find bullets for his M-16. Cynics in the ANA say that they are being forced to fight with a rifle that jams, purely because their allies want to stop it of being any use to the other side. Helmand, November 10, 2012.Afghanistan: An army preparesgAfghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=08km1kM7A80lT

After years of playing a support role of the coalition forces, the Afghan army now has to get ready to hold the line on its own. Helmand, November 11, 2012.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:23:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=08km1kM7A80lTJohn D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

After years of playing a support role of the coalition forces, the Afghan army now has to get ready to hold the line on its own. Helmand, November 11, 2012.

Afghanistan: An army prepares
Afghanistan: An army prepareshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0eQT45h6Ip4v0

But how can the Afghan army, however dedicated, achieve what the far greater resourced 'Coalition of the Willing' has failed to do over the past 11 years?

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:23:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Afghanistan%3A-An-army-prepares?image_id=0eQT45h6Ip4v0John D McHughJohn D McHughAl Jazeera Upload Images

But how can the Afghan army, however dedicated, achieve what the far greater resourced 'Coalition of the Willing' has failed to do over the past 11 years?

Afghanistan: An army prepares


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