How a New U.S. Brigade is Tackling a Wave of Bombings in Afghanistan’s Capital by Dan Lamothe– Washington Post
PAGHMAN, Afghanistan - As U.S. soldiers rolled onto the scene at one of the “gates of Kabul,” it quickly became clear that the situation was complicated.
Members of the Army’s new 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade had traveled by mine-resistant vehicle to meet with Afghan forces on the southwestern outskirts of the country’s capital. In the face of repeated attacks, Afghan officials last year installed a hulking, door-frame-shaped scanner to search for bombs in passing trucks. But U.S. soldiers arrived to find the scanner broken and a line of frustrated truckers waiting with dozens of vehicles.
Lt. Col. Zachary Miller, the senior U.S. officer on the scene, thanked a couple of the drivers for their patience. One of them expressed irritation with his hours-long wait and told Miller that drivers are sometimes able to skip the screening line by paying a bribe of 1,000 Afghani - about $14 - to Afghan forces. And aside from the human dynamic, U.S. soldiers also question how effective the scanners really are.
The June 2 mission in southwestern Kabul province is illustrative of the lasting problems of Afghan corruption and ineffectiveness, both in personnel and technology, that have hampered the war effort for years. Progress, where it exists, often comes in fits and starts. The brigade is attempting to advise the Afghans on handling these perennial problems while also establishing a new kind of unit - more extensively trained to coach and mentor local forces - that the service plans to use in other conflict zones…