The exit strategy for all coalition troops in Afghanistan hinges on being able to train Afghan security forces to take over. The Poles work hard to train Afghan policemen, soldiers, and intelligence officers so that they can one day (soon, hopefully) take the security situation of their country into their own hands. Here’s a clip:
“There are Polish operational mentoring liaison teams working with every brigade in the Afghan National Army’s 203rd Corps,” said Polish Liaison Team Chief, Lt. Col. Przemyslow Zietalak of Zielona Gora, Poland.
Polish forces served alongside U.S. service members in both Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly ten years, developing a great deal of experience in the Middle East. Many Polish Soldiers also served in Lebanon with the United Nations.
Polish liaison teams help Afghan National Security Forces improve their ability to conduct combat training and to bridge the gap between Polish and other coalition forces.
Members of the liaison team are chosen due to their experience and language skills. All Polish Liaison officers must pass an intensive English examination and take courses in either Dari or Pashto.
Read the rest here.
When the Poles took over Ghazni in the fall of 2008, this news story appeared in Reuters describing the situation at the time (October 30, 2008):
Polish troops took command of security in Ghazni on Thursday, a volatile area just two hour’s drive southwest of Kabul where Taliban militants are gaining influence.
According to icasualties.org, 2005 was actually the most dangerous year in Ghazni, in terms of number of coalition deaths. Here are more details from the Reuters story, which shows the Polish troops took over a dangerous and deteriorating area in 2008.
Some 1,200 troops moved into Ghazni four months ago under U.S. command and have repeatedly come under fire since then. In the last six months of their tour, which began in another eastern province, Polish troops have been in combat 600 times and have been hit by more than 100 improvised explosive devices. Six Polish soldiers have been killed and 20 wounded, their outgoing commander said.
The article reveals that Ghazni started deteriorating in tandem with the general decline in all of Afghanistan in 2006:
Two years ago, Ghazni was seen as largely secure but since 2006 Taliban militants have moved into the region from the south and east, attacking traffic on the highway, burning schools and kidnapping foreign civilians.
Afghans from Ghazni say it is no longer safe for them to visit villages even close to the provincial capital and local journalists say Taliban fighters can now be seen on the streets of the city after dark.
This story provides a narrative counter to the one often repeated in American media that Ghazni was a safe and peaceful district when the Poles took it over in 2008.
Here’s an unusual image. Ghazni’s mountainous terrain in Giro district looks like the surface of the moon.
Thanks to the Polish contingent’s ISAF website.
Freelance journalist Jason Motlagh stirred the coalition’s pot with his December article in Time Magazine which showed the Poles in an unfavorable light. One of his earlier articles about Ghazni gives a little more context about what the situation in Ghazni is really like, and gives more detailed reasons for escalating tension in the region. People on the ground there will tell you that both the ethnic racism among Afghans, as well as President Obama’s troop surge pushing Taliban North out of their safe havens have a lot to do with the increased attacks in Ghazni. This article explains the situation well, as far as I understand it. It was written in the wake of the most recent elections.
“The results of Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections announced this week were an anti-climax, coming two months later and tainted by an avalanche of fraud and vote-rigging allegations. But returns from one of the country’s 34 provinces were not certified, and that’s where things get interesting. In Ghazni, a Taliban stronghold with an ethnic Pasthun majority, preliminary results apparently show that the Hazara minority swept the polls by claiming all 11 seats. Given the eastern province’s mixed demography, it’s widely agreed the improbable outcome stems from the insecurity that kept tens of thousands of Pashtuns away from the polls. Much as the Afghan government and its foreign backers want to move on, there are now fears that if corrective steps are not taken, the country’s largest ethnic group could be further isolated — to the Taliban’s advantage.”
Read the rest here.