The US military trainers handed the new recruit, Mohammad Ismail, his new AK-47 to defend his remote village. At the very same moment he turned around and immediately used it, spraying the Americans with bullets and killing two of them. The incident took place in August. In the very same month the spiritual leader of the Taliban Mullah Muhammad Omar said the group’s insurgents have succeeded in foisting the ranks of the Afghan security forces, allowing them to launch attacks on NATO service members.
NATO refers to these attacks as ‘green on blue’ attacks-indicating they are carried out by Afghan soldiers on foreign troops which have increased unprecedentedly in recent times. During 2008 attacks of such nature took place only once or twice a year but they have been averaging one per week in 2012. In just early August, six NATO military officials died in three separate attacks.
In the light of recent events US forces in Afghanistan has for the time being suspended training of the local Afghan police force. However, apart from simply expressing concern on the occurrence of such incidents, it is important to look at some of the reasons as to why infiltrating Afghan local forces is no big deal for the Taliban.
Here are some reasons that will help find the answer:
1. The menace of corruption
Law enforcement agencies in Afghanistan have always been perceived as corrupt. Reports from the Transparency International reveal that Afghan National Police (ANP) is one of the most corrupt agencies in the country.
The corrupt and disloyal commanders of ANA provide arms and military information including counter-insurgency strategies to the Taliban, providing them the opportunity to indirectly infiltrate the forces and hunt down their enemies by using ANP recruited men. With such events happening rampantly, coalition forces in Afghanistan feel more threatened by the Afghan National Police than the Taliban.
2. Harsh economic realities
With unemployment hovering at around 35% and nearly half the population living below poverty line, the nation’s security force is the only consistently hiring employer in Afghanistan. However, the salaries offered are not adequate for people being hired. Members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are paid $165 per month, compared with an average annual household Afghan income of around $400.
In comparison to this Taliban have juicier offers for such people. They pay an estimated $300 to their foot soldier per month. In February 2008, a US military report from southern Afghanistan documented how a Taliban leader tried to bribe a brigade commander in Afghan National Army by offering him $100,000 for quitting his job.
That would be definitely a lucrative offer for many. Hence economic realities and low scales collectively contribute in fulfilling Taliban’s aims and objectives.
3. Lower local participation begets indifference
An enormity that has always been a source of immense concern regarding the Afghan Army has been its struggle with ethnic divisions. This is also a manifestation of lax hiring practices by US due to which the composition of Afghan army remained overly dominated by minorities. A considerable percentage of the national force includes Tajik who have a share of 35-40%, 10-12% Hazara and 8-10% Uzbek.
In addition to this people from southern Afghanistan remain completely marginalized from any sort of participation in the army. The imbalance in turn leads to distrust that the local population has on its forces of defense. Furthermore, it is precisely this feeling of alienation and trust deficit that is capitalized by the Taliban to obtain their motives.