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Saturday
Dec252010

Troops in Afghanistan Mark Christmas at War

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SHARANA, Afghanistan) -- American troops in Afghanistan spend Christmas away from their families and, in some cases, in the company of Afghan soldiers, who are key to the American exit strategy.

Creating a competent army and police force capable of taking over security duties in the country is not easy. On a recent mission to capture Taliban militants, Afghan soldiers accompanied Army Lt. Col. Dave Womack of the 506th Infantry Regiment's 1st Battalion.

 “The trick is putting them out front,” Womack told ABC News Radio’s Aaron Katersky, who is embedded with the troops. But putting the Afghan Army’s leadership out front is not always possible. For this mission, Womack’s counterpart never showed up.

“He sent his soldiers and he didn’t come, so I’m going to go have a nice little meeting about leadership,” Womack said.

Lack of leadership is a problem throughout the Afghan National Army. They are finding plenty of recruits, but need to produce more officers.

“There are guys that are amazing,” Womack said. “It’s just not to the level you’d like.”

Womack also suspects the loyalties of some Afghan troops are compromised, so he gives them no advance word on missions, making training more complicated.

The U.S. and NATO have said they would like to hand over security operations to the Afghans in 2014.

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ABC News Radio