U.S. to Send Trainers to Afghanistan as Stopgap

U.S. to Send Trainers to Afghanistan as Stopgap - Thom Shanker, New York Times.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has signed an order sending 850 more American military personnel to Afghanistan as a stopgap measure to fill vacancies in the high-priority effort to train local security forces, Pentagon officials said Monday.

Officials said the decision reflects Mr. Gates's assessment that while European allies have made substantial commitments to support the war effort, some nations have asked for and deserve more time to fulfill their pledges to supply trainers for the Afghan Army and police.

The additional American personnel - about 150 Marines and an Army battalion - have a specific and limited deployment schedule. They will serve for 90 to 120 days between now and September...

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The Way Out - New York Times editorial.

... Illiteracy, corruption and other problems are not unexpected in a country as poor and undeveloped as Afghanistan. But a disturbing Pentagon report to Congress last week acknowledged that one of the "most significant challenges" to fielding qualified Afghan security forces is a shortage of "institutional trainers."

The training effort - like everything else about Afghanistan - was shortchanged for years under President George W. Bush. It has received more attention and resources under President Obama. In November, the United States and NATO opened a new integrated training mission. Its leader, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, who previously led leadership schools and training programs at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., was a West Point classmate of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan.

General Caldwell has brought a new coherence and purpose to the mission by revamping the Afghan Army leadership program and standardizing police instruction, among other innovations. And he has managed to double his number of trainers from 1,300 when he started to roughly 2,700 today. But he - more to the point, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General McChrystal - is having a very hard time getting the rest of NATO to deliver on commitments...

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