Literacy Key to Afghan Security Forces

Article excerpt

THE general in charge of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan said the three major elements he's focused on to grow a professional Afghan National Security Force--leader development, literacy and addressing losses through attrition--are paying off.

In an update on the general health and development of Afghan forces, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell said that growth of the Afghan army and police forces this year has doubled the average of any previous year, with the current year up 58,000 thus far.

"The growth of the ANSF in the first half of 2010 is in fact larger than at any other year in its history," Caldwell said, adding that growth goals for the army and police were three months ahead of schedule.

"To understand the measured progress we've made, you have to really stop and take a look back. From 2002 to November 2009 ... development of the Afghan National Security Force really was hampered by a lack of resources, leading to understandably slow, halting and uncoordinated progress. Today, we've reversed that trend," he said.

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The general added that the ability to read and write is essential to having a professional and enduring force, and cited the average literacy rate of entry level soldiers and policemen to be between 14 and 18 percent across the force. …