NATO Lowered Standards to Make Afghan Forces Look ‘Improved’

GAO Report Confirms Long-Standing Problems Not Addressed

For the past decade-plus of the NATO occupation, the creation of the Afghan military has been repeatedly presented as a primary end-goal. The Afghan military has had several major problems, corruption, logistics concerns, and massive attrition.

NATO found a solution of sorts last year, and has been hyping the “improved” Afghan military ever since. But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report details that embarrassing solution today: they simply lowered their standards.

The goal has long been to get Afghan troops to the top “rating” level, which from the occupation’s beginning was “independent.” In August 2011, however, NATO simply did away with the “independent” rating and created a new “independent with advisors” level as the new goal.

Even that was one that only about 14 percent of Afghan Army forces managed to squeak through, but that’s a lot more than the old “independent” rating could ever hope for, and this became proof of “progress” in many official reports.

At the end of the day, this “progress” remains illusory, however, and NATO officials know that the “independent with advisors” rating remains contingent on keeping NATO troops in the nation for “advice.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.