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A major part of whatever is the definition du jour of “success” in Afghanistan depends on the increased ability of the Afghan national security forces to shoulder more and more of the load, the so-called “they stand up so we can stand down” policy.

At a recent meeting in Kabul:

“A joint panel of officials from Afghanistan, the U.N. and troop-contributing nations approved plans to train more than 100,000 more security forces by the end of next year…[T]he Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board agreed to increase the size of the Afghan National Army from the current figure of about 97,000 to 171,600 by the end of next year, officials said. The Afghan National Police will be boosted from about 94,000 today to 134,000.

The board set a long-term goal of expanding the Afghan security force to 240,000 soldiers and 160,000 police within five years if conditions require.”

They stand up so we can stand down. The standing up part might be a problem.

“When British trainers administered random drugs tests to 25 Afghan police recruits at a base in southern Helmand province, most of them failed…”So far we’ve found three tested positive for amphetamines and also opiates, approximately 15 for the use of hashish,” British Army Captain Pete Alexander, a police instructor, told Reuters, looking over the results of the 25 tests.”

Not only can they stand up, but will they stand up?:

“…a fourth of the officers quit every year, making the Afghan government’s lofty goals of substantially building up the police force even harder to achieve.”

So how long should it take to achieve this lofty goal, President Karzai?

“With regard to training and equipping the Afghan security forces, five to 10 years will be enough,” Karzai said. “With regard to sustaining them until Afghanistan is financially able to provide for our forces, the time will be extended to 10 to 15 years.”

And the end is not in sight.

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