Advertising

Originally published Friday, September 2, 2011 at 10:06 PM

One in seven Afghan soldiers deserted during first half of year

At least one in seven Afghan soldiers walked off the job during the first six months of 2011, a worsening trend at a time Afghan and U.S. officials are trying to shift the burden of fighting the Taliban to Afghan security forces.

The Washington Post

advertising

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least one in seven Afghan soldiers walked off the job during the first six months of 2011, a worsening trend at a time Afghan and U.S. officials are trying to shift the burden of fighting the Taliban to Afghan security forces.

Between January and June, 24,590 soldiers walked off the job, compared with 11,423 who left in the same period last year, according to NATO statistics. In June, more than 5,000 soldiers deserted, nearly 3 percent of the force, which has about 170,000 soldiers, significantly more than a year ago.

At the height of harvest time in Afghanistan this summer, the desertion rate climbed to an annualized rate of nearly 35 percent.

The rate of desertion has attracted increasing criticism of a long-standing decree by President Hamid Karzai that protects Afghan army deserters from being punished.

Afghan and coalition officials said the soldiers who leave often complain about poor living conditions or commanders who do not allow a regular vacation schedule. But Afghan and U.S. military officials also say poor leadership is a main reason soldiers desert the ranks.

Despite the recent resurgence, the level of dropouts remains significantly lower than earlier in the war. As recently as September 2009, more soldiers were quitting than joining the army.

Advertising




Advertising