Saturday, April 3, 2010

Training the Afghanistan army: audio slideshow

By Channel 4 News

Photojournalist John D McHugh presents his audio slide show of the Afghanistan National Army being trained. His stunning images capture the massive preparation scheme - but will numbers alone be enough?

Lt. Col. Nick Ilic is the Commander of the UK Leadership Training Team at Camp Alamo, which is part of the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC). Overseeing a unit of 64 British soldiers, he is tasked with "training the trainers" of the Afghan National Army.

"As we keep saying, we are growing the (Afghan) army at an industrial scale," says Col. Ilic.

"At any one day we have 10,000 soldiers under training" he tells me, and as the photographs in this multimedia presentation show, all that training is outside. Whatever the weather.

"There is no substitute for outdoor training," Ilic says. "It toughens them up. And of course, one of the issues we have, especially down south, in places like Helmand or elsewhere, it's the battle-hardness, that's the most important part."

Battle-hardness may be one concern, but looking at the vastness of the training ranges, and the huge numbers of soldiers going through their basic training, it is clear that numbers are the top priority.

Col. Ilic is not coy about it either. He tells me, in a matter of fact way, one of the clearest truths I have heard in the Afghan war so far. "We are trying to out-produce the Taliban."

The question is, will numbers alone be enough?

The slideshow can be viewed by clicking on the blog entry title or enter the following link into your browser:

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