The White House might have to consider their position on training Afghan troops in light of numerous stories of Afghan police officers defecting to the Taliban and carrying out attacks on American troops. Another distressing matter is that the Afghan defectors are taking the modern weaponry, radios and armored Humvees to the Taliban, thus, strengthening the Taliban.
There have been instances in the Farah province in Western Afghanistan when high-ranking Afghan officials have poisoned subordinates that refused to defect along with them.
There is also the possibility that these commanders have passed crucial intelligence information to the Taliban. This comes as a setback for the American and other international forces in Afghanistan because they have been successful in getting Taliban insurgents over to the government side.
Instances of defection are rarely reported in the Afghan media, but they occur on small scales throughout the country. They occur mostly in volatile regions such as Helmand, Musa Qala and Kandahar. The American troops feel the frustration of defecting Afghan officers because they play a vital role in remote areas in negotiating with the Taliban to implement a cease-fire. This is one of the few ways to avoid constant fighting and to broker peace agreements. Hence, defections make it far more difficult for the Americans to trust locals now.
Local Afghans, however, have a different story to tell. They blame the weak government and argue that the police officers that defected were poor and not paid on time. Therefore, they had no option but to defect to the Taliban, who provided food and other securities for the families of defectors.
This situation in Afghanistan highlights a precarious situation not only for the Afghans, but also the American administration because of the constant talk of withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan. The White House might have to rethink its strategy now because America would not want to leave Afghanistan in a situation worse than what it was in 2001 with a stronger-than-before Taliban. There is also the additional pressure from neighboring countries such as India because an American withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to an increase in Islamic militancy, which could have potentially devastating ramifications for the Indian subcontinent and also the West because of their military involvement in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is imperative that the powers in America do some careful thinking about this delicate situation in Afghanistan. Any wrong decisions could have hazardous consequences in the long term.
Aditya Mehta is a College junior from Mumbai, India joint majoring in Sociology-Religion and minoring in Global health, Cultures and Society.