In a story which is becoming increasingly common, eleven Afghan policemen defected to the Taliban this week, taking their weapons and years of training with them.
This is the fatal and unacknowledged flaw in the mentoring strategy for withdrawal of US/ISAF forces, a strategy dependant on leaving the central Afghan government capable of maintaining its own security: how to guarantee the loyalty of those we are arming and training? In a country of such extreme poverty, which often necessitates ever-shifting loyalties, the answer is always going to be “you can’t”.
What events like this point to is the increasing likelihood that our “mentoring”, or in other words training and arming both ANA and police is not going to contribute to security as claimed, but serve to arm and train all sides for more effective and widespread violence in a civil war post-withdrawal.
After all, if we cannot guarantee their loyalty while our troops are present, how will we guarantee it once most of them leave?