Afghan security forces will take over as U.S.-led international troops gradually withdraw from Afghanistan through 2014. At least that’s the plan. Poor leadership could undermine Afghan efforts to secure their own country. “There’s a gross lack of leadership in Afghanistan,” says “Tom,” a U.S. Army Special Forces officer assigned to train Afghan police in Laghman province, east of Kabul.
Tom spoke on the condition we not print his real name.
It’s not clear why Afghanistan fails to produce good military leaders in the right quantity, although Tom offers some hints. He describes a culture infused with concept of insh’allah, Arabic for “if God wills it.” As long as God is calling the shots, men don’t have to.
Widespread cronyism and corruption, rooted in poor governance, poverty and a strong sense of family and tribal loyalty, can also prevent good leadership candidates from advancing through the ranks. For instance, a governor’s halfwit brother is more likely to attain a leadership position than a genuinely qualified man with no ties to high-ranking officials.