We've all read news reports about how army units in Afghanistan or Iraq have failed in combat against, respectively, the Taliban or ISIL. Their performance has been dire - and that's putting it charitably.
In an article for Point of Decision, the author describes his experience training Afghan troops, and offers this perspective.
The most basic question remains unanswered: what does it take to raise and train a proficient military force? American drill sergeants would answer with an exhaustive list of physical, mental, and ethical competencies. They would also tell you that they break incoming privates into a rough mold of proficiency, but ultimately the NCOs at the receiving units must sharpen them into effective soldiers. This continuing developmental process is taken for the granted in the American system (ridiculing the Structured Self-Development courses and safety briefings tends to take precedence), and largely ignored when training foreign soldiers.
Soldiers and policemen alike in the worst years of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were trained to be bodies that could patrol and die. In the low-intensity wars of attrition, bodies and unit strength percentages mattered. Higher-tiered priorities like ensuring unit integrity and developing officers and NCOs were afterthoughts. As a result, there was a wild deviation between units. I experienced this firsthand: our first company of ANA soldiers had a tough, respected CO. Drug abuse, skipping patrols, and falling asleep on guard duty were met swiftly with corporal punishment. The follow-on replacements were led by an obese, lazy man. He never left the wire, and rarely managed his company. His unit rarely showed up for patrols, and when they did the few volunteers were stoned out of their minds. Lack of leadership cripples units at the company level, but the problem lies much deeper.
There's more at the link. Interesting reading for all military veterans, particularly those who've benefited from good leadership and know what that means - and what it takes. I can add from my own experience, having been able to see at first hand what it took to train African recruits in several countries into effective soldiers, that I think the author is spot on. Without good NCO's, the process must and will founder . . . but where is one to find such NCO's in a country where few possess such attributes?