As the war on terrorist groups drags on, it’s likely American troops will have to continue to work alongside their Afghan counterparts. Oftentimes, though, American forces are faced with working with local troops that are unwilling to fight against the enemies of their country.
Vietnam veterans reported that their South Vietnamese partners would often fail to help during fights with the Viet Cong, often witnessing them flee a battle and drop their guns.
Today, some U.S. troops seen the same thing happening with their Afghan National Army counterparts.
For example, some Marine elements were tasked with working with the Afghan National Police in Helmand Province.
“Working the ANP was like herding cattle,” HM2 (FMF) Raul Silva remembers. “Cool to hang out with, but when it came to do some work, they scattered.”
In 2010, Silva served on a Police Mentor Team during 3rd Battalion 5th Marines deployment in Sangin, Afghanistan, to help train and grow the local Afghan police force.
In this area, the Afghan troops would carry their weapons incorrectly or be under the heavy influence of drugs while out on foot patrols and other missions.
This contributed to the ideology that a good majority of the ANA were not in fear of taking contact from Taliban forces due to a possible affiliation with the extremist group.
In some instances, ANA troops would sit and boil water for tea while the fight was on.
ANA soldiers wave one of their armored vehicles through a checkpoint. Some ANA troops leave the wire without their firearms.
In the winter of 2010, several local nationals living in Helmand Province complained about being robbed by the troops that were supposed to protect them.
Reportedly, the Afghan service members were “shaking down” the members of the populous because they hadn’t received their paychecks from the government in weeks.
During that same time period, two U.S. Marines were killed by a rogue ANA soldier while manning their post at Patrol Base Amoo. Shortly after the chaos, the ANA soldier managed to escape from the base, fracturing an already fragile relationship between Afghan troops and the Americans.
Of course there are some areas where the Afghans work hard and fight alongside their U.S. allies, but as more troops deploy to the wartorn land, it’s certain many of those units will face the same lack of motivation as the Marines did in 2010.