Seven years into the war in Afghanistan, Major General Robert Cone sought to tout the “great progress” made in readying Afghanistan’s own security forces, but rather wound up giving the impression that little has really been accomplished and the US mission has, in his words, “a long way to go.”
After five years of US training, only about a third of the Afghan Army is actually ready to operate on its own. The Afghan police are in even sorrier shape, with fully none of the 433 assessed units capable of performing its duties, and the vast, vast majority of them having the lowest possible rating of readiness.
The seemingly open-ended war is not sitting well with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose ambition for re-election in the fall is put in growing peril by the spiraling death toll and public perception of an inept government dependent on a foreign occupation for even the modicum of control they exert over the nation.
Rather than hoping the promised “surge” will set things right, President Karzai is petitioning the United Nations Security Council to put an end to the civilian casualties caused by the international forces, which operate under a UN mandate. Karzai also asked them to end house searching and unnecessary detentions.
But perhaps most tellingly, the president is asking the international community for a timeline on how much longer the war is going to take. Pakistani Senator Nisar Memon asked NATO the same thing yesterday, but was apparently rebuffed on the notion of an exit strategy for the ever-worsening war. Whether Karzai will get any answer remains uncertain.