The latest status of the Afghan army’s development was explained during a recent address by Army Brig. Gen. Gary Patton during a Department of Defense bloggers conference.
According to Patton, the Afghan forces have seen significant growth in the past few months as efforts to increase numbers, develop leaders and increase retention continue to strengthen. The Afghan army now totals 129,885 soldiers.
However, attrition and retention remain an unstable element to the army’s complete success. Patton explained Afghanistan’s agricultural society results in decreased recruitment numbers during the summer months. The general explained their focus on recruitment will remain a top priority as efforts to bring in new soldiers continues.
“We have been banking extra recruits over some very successful months,” Patton said. “As long as we keep the training seats filled, we’ll be OK.”
Among other areas of focus, the army is also improving the literacy rate of Afghan soldiers. Literacy has been incorporated into the training curriculum to improve the literacy numbers of Afghan recruits, as only 14 percent can read and write before training.
“Having a literacy program embedded within our basic training and NCO training is really critical in developing soldiers and leaders that can advance in their specialty,” Patton said.
Patton stressed these missions will continue to strengthen U.S. efforts to develop the Afghan army and if continued, a bright future remains for NATO’s mission.
“If we stay on target,” he said, “we feel all of our objectives are achievable.”