Rahmatullah, an illiterate young man with a wispy beard and remnants of teenage acne, may represent the last, best hope for Afghanistan’s national army.
Wearing an old Russian-style helmet and firing an American M-16 automatic rifle, he squinted as his hissing rounds found their target on a firing range at the national training academy. At his elbow was his first cousin Azizullah, a functionally illiterate Pashtun tribesman who crouched to fire his own M-16.
The cousins decided in fall to join the Afghan National Army, which for a decade has struggled to mold itself into an effective fighting force. Both were encouraged to join by their fathers and uncles, Pashtuns from a nearby hilltop village where support for Afghan security forces is strong and hatred of Taliban insurgents runs deep.
Read more at the L.A. Times