Illiteracy Will Not Hold Afghan Forces Back: Seddiqi

News - Afghanistan


The Afghan Ministry of Interior (MOI) Thursday dismissed the remarks of a US official that rampant illiteracy among the ranks of the Afghan army was proving a "huge challenge" to training, saying it will not undermine the strategy ahead.

"Illiteracy cannot put obstacles in the way of the withdrawal and transition process," MOI spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said.

US Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter said in an interview with Bloomberg this week that Washington will push ahead with plans to provide the Afghan armed forces with more weapon artillery and armored vehicles to enhance its capabilities, but noted illiteracy is holding the army back in other ways.

Illiteracy among Afghans "is a huge challenge and one that we have confronted for five or six years," Carter said. Training Afghan troops for military roles requires "basic literacy training - training people to count and write basic sentences," he said.

Providing more details on different types of artillery to be delivered to Afghanistan, the Pentagon deputy pointed out the effectiveness of mortars and airforce aids.

"Mortars will help Afghan troops to do their own indirect fires as the US scales back air support, he said, adding that Afghans were familiar with the weapon from the Soviet period.

The Pentagon is also working "through acquisition issues" in order to provide Afghanistan with a light-attack plane, Carter said.

US officials have previously said that most of the staff within the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are illiterate and that it has caused great challenges in training them for independent operations.

Nevertheless, Nato and Afghan officials have indicated that ANSF is already responsible for security in more than 75 percent in the country.

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