British troops: Believe it, the Afghan army’s getting better

The British on the ground here in restive Helmand province say the Afghan army—often seen in the past as inefficient or incompetent—is showing signs of improvement, in what the British hope is a positive sign for the rest of Afghanistan. The national police force here still appears more prone to corruption and poor practices.

A recent White House review of progress in Afghanistan warned that success hinged on the Afghan government’s ability to take over security and governance, but showed concern that neither the army nor the police were yet up to the task…

Growing British confidence in the Afghan army forces they are training was evident on a combined patrol that day in the former Taliban stronghold of Tor Ghai. The British battle group’s commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Harrison, gave Col. Sboor’s forces joint credit for a recent offensive that ousted insurgents from this district. “These blokes have no fear,” said British Maj. Nick French of his Afghan army colleagues. Moments later, he gave an emotional greeting to Lt. Jaweed—a 27-year-old who goes by one name—with whom he led the joint U.K.-Afghan force that took Tor Ghai. “You fight with someone, you develop a bond,” Maj. French said.