KABUL, Afghanistan, June 15 (UPI) -- Western military advisers say Afghanistan's army is making progress but still has a way to go as it prepares to assume the lead in the nation's security.
Afghan forces will formally assume the lead in maintaining stability in their country this summer despite lacking the sophistication the United States and its NATO allies bring to the field.
The use of modern artillery and air power are areas where training, education and tactics need to be updated. "We will need to deliver for the Afghans some fairly significant support for a while to come -- particularly the use of air power," British Lt. Gen. Nick Carter told The Wall Street Journal. "I suspect it will take another six to eight years before that capability is fully serviceable in the way that the country needs it."
The Journal said Afghan artillery tactics lean toward blasting away at close range against visible targets rather than using spotters for longer-range barrages. NATO officers explained Afghan soldiers often don't have the math skills and familiarity with maps and radios required to knock out a target a few miles away.
A lack of in-depth training plus high turnover also plagues the national police force. Trainers said Afghan recruits get minimal weapons training and haven't learned to develop effective intelligence networks.
On the brighter side, the Afghans have shown signs of willingness to mix it up with the Taliban. Government officials were heartened by the relatively efficient manner in which they knocked back an insurgent raid on the Kabul airport without suffering any casualties, The Journal said.