Posted by Lex, on August 27, 2010
The challenge of reforming Afghanistan from anarchical barbarism to merely medieval is once again illuminated in the US Marine Corps’ latest mission: Teaching the Afghan army to drive.
Afghan and American trainers at the NATO-run Kabul Military Training Center, where 10,000 recruits receive instruction at any given time, are shocked to discover just how bad the Afghans drive.
“We’re losing them faster from vehicle accidents than combat,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, commander of the 22,000-acre training center, a former Soviet base that still houses a graveyard for Soviet tanks.
More than half of Afghan army injuries result from vehicular accidents. Since 2005, 141 soldiers and recruits have died in rollovers and collisions, many caused by excessive speed, inability to negotiate curves or an unwillingness to yield to other vehicles.
In the next 14 months, Caldwell said, the training center plans to turn out as many graduates as it has in the last eight years. He knows that to reach that goal, he must emphasize driver education.
The center now has 10 instructors and provides 191 hours of classroom and on-the-road training. “Even then, it’s been hard,” Caldwell said.
The instructors come from several coalition partners. Reconnaissance classes are taught by Romanian soldiers; troops from Turkey teach preventive maintenance; Afghans demonstrate how to prepare chow.
U.S. Marines teach driver training.
While the Marines are teaching driver’s ed in Afghanistan, the Germans are training the police, the British are training the cooks, the Italians are training engineers and the French are teaching administration.
No, wait: I think that’s hell.
It’s hard to tell the difference, sometimes.
Ed. – At the end, Lex is referring to an old joke on various nationalities:
“Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the
mechanics German, the lovers Italian and it’s all organised by the
Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the
lover’s Swiss, the police German and it’s all organised by the Italians.”