Soaring Desertions Add to Afghan Military Woes

Corruption Leaves Many Troops Starving, Unpaid

With Afghanistan already facing the huge handicap of 40% of its military flat out not existing, one would think they’d be more careful with the remaining 60%. They’re not, however, and the Afghan military is now facing a growing number of desertions.

Undermanned and poorly trained, many Afghan troops see their involvement in the war as “suicide missions.” In a country whose economy has been all but destroyed by generations of foreign occupation, that’s par for the course, but many say they’re not even getting their meager paychecks on a regular basis.

Being in the Afghan military doesn’t pay well, and widespread corruption means it’s not unusual for those paychecks to disappear long before they make their way to the troops on the ground. That’s similarly the case with ammunition and food, leaving the troops more or less perpetually in dire straits.

The undependable pay means that one of the few groups that the Afghan military reliably attracts, the desperately poor who have run out of options, aren’t doing much better in taking the extremely dangerous job of front-line soldier than they were being chronically unemployed.

The corruption woes in the Afghan military seem to just be getting worse, and with such a broad swathe of the military existing only on paper, and solely so warlords can rob foreign bankrollers blind, there seems to be little interest in serious reform.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of