Ten years and $66 billion later, not one Afghan battalion is operating on its own. That was the conclusion of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell today as he set new benchmarks for training Afghan soldiers and expressed alarm over the attrition rates of Afghanistan's men in uniform. In charge of the training, Caldwell admitted that even the two so-called "independent" military units still require US backing for "maintenance, logistics, and medical systems."
Most Afghan soldiers read below the kindergarten level, Wired reports, preventing them from using complex equipment. Afghan police are also dogged by corruption allegations that include mass murder as well as rape, arbitrary detention, and abductions. Meanwhile 2.3% of Afghan cops and 1.4% of Afghan soldiers are quitting every day. Caldwell said the US must continue training until 2017 and aim to reduce attrition rates to 1.4% across the board. “I’m still very realistic about the challenges out there,” he said.