Trimming the Training Mission

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Afghan police line up for a morning formation in June.

The headline in Sunday’s Washington Post was pretty stark:

Afghan Recruit Training Halted

…it said.

A quick read of the article offered the reader no clue that the halt affects only about 3% of the entire U.S.-led Afghan training mission. It is designed to weed out poorly-vetted Afghan village police who might turn their guns on U.S. and allied troops.

Just before noon Sunday, Pentagon press secretary George Little tried to set the record straight with a tweet:

The New York Times, stung at being beat on the story, made clear the limit of the training cutback in the second graf of its catch-up story:

The move does not affect the vast majority of Afghan forces — more than 350,000 Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan National Police members — who are still being trained and are still working in the field with American and NATO counterparts, military officials said. The action was first reported online by The Washington Post.

The Times was still smarting in its follow-up story to its catch-up story on Monday, when it reported that the news of the limited training cutback simply “came to light on Saturday,” as if it were the dawn.

For the record, the rescrubbing is occurring only in the U.S. Special Forces training of the so-called Afghan Local Police, or ALP.

A U.S. commander ordered it following the deaths of two U.S. troops working in the program Aug. 17. U.S. military officials have long said this training program is the sloppiest among those also being conducted with the Afghan army and national police.

But such perfidy exists in the bigger training programs as well. Fingers are crossed from Kabul to Washington that the recent spike in so-called “green-on-blue” insider attacks abates soon.