Fashioning viable, technically proficient indigenous forces capable of operating independently of American arms has long been a nettlesome challenge for the US military. In Iraq, for example, it remains an incrementally improving, work-in-progress. Further east, however, in the purportedly neglected theater of Afghanistan, the US Special Forces deserve plaudits for making major in-roads with the creation of a nascent Afghan Commando force.
Writing in the Boston Globe, scribe Ann Scott Tyson reports:
Night after night, commandos in US Chinook helicopters descend into remote Afghan villages, wielding M-4 rifles as they swarm Taliban compounds. ...But though the commandos carry the best US rifles, wear night-vision goggles, and ride in armored Humvees, they are not Americans but Afghans—trained and advised by US special forces teams that are seeking to create a sustainable combat force that will ultimately replace them in Afghanistan.
These raids apparently began last December, and the dividends from the Afghan commando project overall have been encouraging thus far. According to Tyson’s piece, three out of an anticipated six army commando battalions (640 men per battalion) have already begun active operations. Meanwhile, American commanders have evidently credited the commando raids with the killing or capture of 30 insurgent leaders in eastern Afghanistan. Not bad for a fledgling force, even if the media usually prefers to focus on the soldiery qualities of the enemy.
Additional time and a larger sampling are certainly required before anyone pronounces the endeavor an unqualified success or failure. Obviously, the development of the Afghan commando force must continue apace if it is to demonstrate the level of operational efficacy and, equally important, sustainability to permit a draw-down of US Special Forces units. Still, the Afghanis and their Green Beret mentors appear to be off to an auspicious start, and if ultimately successful, the entire Western world will reap the benefits of a counterinsurgency force equipped with the technical know-how and linguistic and cultural sensitivity to disrupt insurgent networks in an immeasurably pivotal theater.