Video: U.S. troops try in vain to train Afghan soldiers

It’s nine months old and comes straight from the darkest heart of liberal Britain, a.k.a. the Guardian, but I’m giving it to you anyway because it’s new to me, completely engrossing, and jibes with a story by a major publication that I read just last week.

Even the best Afghan units lack training, discipline and adequate reinforcements. In one new unit in Baghlan Province, soldiers have been found cowering ditches rather than fight. Others routinely steal U.S.-supplied fuel, equipment and weapons. And a few are suspected of collaborating with the Taliban against the Americans.

“I do not feel I am a mentor here,” said Capt. Jason Douthwaite, a logistics officer with the 73rd Troop Command of the Ohio National Guard who has tried to stop rampant pilfering by the Afghan soldiers his unit is training. “I feel like I am an investigating officer. It’s not, ‘Let me teach you your job.’ It’s more like, ‘How much did you steal from the American government today?’”…

During a Taliban ambush, gunfire was coming at the Americans and their Afghan counterparts from three sides. But the Afghan National Army soldiers of the 209 Corps, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Kandak (battalion), fresh out of training in Kabul, were not ready for a fight.

So after returning initial fire, the Afghan soldiers simply lay in a ditch, refusing to budge.

“They don’t have the basics, so they lay down,” said Capt. Michael Bell, who is one of a team of U.S. and Hungarian mentors tasked with making this young kandak battle-ready. “I ran around for an hour trying to get them to shoot, getting fired on. I couldn’t get them to shoot their weapons.”

Which publication was it, you ask. The Times? The Nation? Try Stars and Stripes — and the article only gets worse from there. Question for our military readers who’ve served in Kabul: Has your experience been this discouraging? It blows my mind that these recruits come from the same population as an effective guerrilla force like the Taliban, although a possible explanation for that is mentioned in the clip. No wonder, either, that Gates demanded that the pace of withdrawal be entirely conditions-based. After watching this, Hitchens’s idea of bringing in India instead of handing off to Kabul looks even better than before. Content warning.