TheAfghangovernmentandnon-Pushtunsingeneral,areupsetwitharecentAmericanannouncementthatthey,alongwithmostNATOtroops,plantohaltmajormilitaryoperationsayearaheadofschedule(by2013).TheU.S.,andsomeotherNATOallies,wouldshifttocommandoandtrainingoperations.TheSpecialForcesandcommandoswouldcontinuetohuntdownTalibananddruggangleaders,whileforeigntrainerscontinuedtoupgradetheskillsofAfghansoldiersandpolice. The largest foreign force in Afghanistan is American (90,000 troops), but a quarter of those will be gone within a year. What many (Afghans and foreigners) fear is that Afghan soldiers and police will not be able to effectively replace the foreign troops. There is also a lot of trepidation about the Afghan police, who continue to be poorly trained and led, and generally unwelcome. Afghans have no tradition of rural police, and the tribal leaders resent the loss of policing authority. Most Afghans believe the police are ineffective in dealing with crime, or tribal leaders who oppose “outsiders” (the police) imposing on traditional powers. Yet each year more and more rural Afghans report encountering honest and effective police. But the rate of improvement is slow, and most Afghan cops are still inept and corrupt.
Another problem is money. The Afghan security forces will reach their planned strength of 350,000 (soldiers and police) by 2014. This force will cost $6 billion a year to run and the Afghan government cannot afford it. Some 90 percent of the money must come from foreign donors. But most donor countries (especially American and European) are having cash-flow problems and France has suggested that the Afghan security forces be reduced 35 percent (to 230,000) to ease the burden on donor states. After all, the Taliban only have about 20,000 gunmen. Throw in another 10,000 bandits and hired guns working for drug gangs and other criminal organizations, and that appears reasonable. But no one will know for sure until the foreign troops back off or leave and the Afghans take over. That is already happening in some parts of the country, and the results are mixed. Some NATO nations believe Afghan forces will be less likely to succeed if American and NATO forces leave earlier than 2014. Everyone agrees that there is a risk of civil war when foreign troops cease combat operations. The Taliban and some pro-Taliban Pushtun tribes have made no secret of their desire to run the country again. Afghans fear a resumption of the civil war, which was interrupted in late 2001, when the Americans intervened on the side of the Northern Alliance (a coalition of non-Pushtun groups from the non-Pushtun north).