The Afghan Army has formed and deployed its first Special Forces teams, and they are a huge success. Many Afghans are familiar with American Special Forces, but while these foreign troops spoke the language and knew the culture, they weren’t Afghan. Despite that, the American Special Forces often established rapport with the Afghan villagers, and were often very successful. But the Afghan Special Forces take that rapport to a new level. Afghan villagers admired the skills of the American Special Forces, both as warriors and experts in many other areas. But now they see Afghans doing the same things. This makes a big impression, and the Afghan Special Forces get even more cooperation and trust.

The Afghan Special Forces aren’t the only elite military unit the Afghans have formed. Six years ago, the Afghan Army formed its first commando battalion. The unit was trained by U.S. Marines. Since then, 2,400 carefully selected Afghan infantrymen have been sent to Jordan for commando and special operations training. The sergeants among this group, served as trainers during the formation of additional commando battalions. Three years ago, U.S. Army Special Forces were involved in the forming of five commando battalions, so that each of the five army corps has one of these special operations units. Currently, there are 7,000 troops in the Afghan Commando Brigade.

All this was done in a nation where over 60 percent of the population is illiterate, and the military traditions are more tribal warrior than professional soldier. The tribal culture makes it difficult for soldiers from different tribes to work together. But there are always those who have the desire to do something different, and these are the men who made the cut in the special operations forces.

The U.S. Special Forces assisted the Afghans in creating Special Forces units similar to the American ones, where each unit specializes in working with specific ethnic groups, or tribal coalitions. The goal is a force of four Afghan Special Forces battalions, each with 18 A-Teams. Given the success of American Special Forces, that are trained to understand Afghan culture and speak the language, it was believed that Afghans doing the same thing, would perform even better, and more than double the number of Special Forces troops, specialized in dealing with Afghanistan, available. Moreover, this means that Afghanistan will still have a Special Forces capability once U.S. forces depart. Afghanistan is the kind of country (four major ethnic groups, hundreds of tribes and clans) that needs Special Forces long term.


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