Newly installed US commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson today conceded that the American training mission for the Afghan military has fallen far behind schedule, and that initial hopes to get the Afghans “self-sufficient” are far away.
Gen. Nicholson insisted the delays were the result of heavy fighting year-round in Afghanistan. Previously, the Afghan War had been very seasonal, with a spring offensive and subsequent fighting wrapping up before winter.
Growing Afghan casualties meant more recruits to train, and Nicholson said many times the recruits had to simply stop training and go fight against the Taliban. The Afghan military has also struggled to attract competent recruits, facing desertions on a regular basis, with many people sticking around until they get their first check.
Nicholson’s comments are themselves hardly shocking, but just add to his comments about the struggles 15 years into the US occupation, with expectations that he will urge the White House to send more troops to Afghanistan later this year.