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At Forward Operating Base Naghlu, a member of the Afghan National Army's 3rd Brigade of the 201st Corps keeps watch over the desolate landscape. Brigade Col. Babagul Aamal says the fight against the Taliban is largely their own.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

In a vast mountainous region between Kabul and Kandahar, Pvt. Miraha, 22, serves as a foot soldier in an Afghan National Army battalion stationed near Surobi. He makes $240 a month as an enlisted soldier.The army has manpower, but officers say it's lacking in equipment and other vital systems.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Pvt. Besmillah, 26, is married and has three children. He says he likes his job at a checkpoint on the crucial Kabul-to-Jalalabad road, which in the past was frequently attacked by the Taliban.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Afghan soldiers man this observation post for up to a month at a time without leaving. They lack electricity and their only heat comes from wood. Food is brought up the mountain by foot each day.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Pvts. Besmillah, left, and Isa ride in the back of a vehicle during a patrol of the highway between Kabul and Jalalabad. Morale is high among many Afghan soldiers, though some say they are frustrated by a chronic lack of resources, such as fuel and firepower.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

At Forward Operating Base Naghlu, an American soldier keeps watch from a tower as Afghan National Army soldiers go through their daily routine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Pvt. 2nd Class Chris Wade of the 2nd Battalion, 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division stands guard inside the Afghan National Army compound at Forward Operating Base Naghlu. Wade is part of the first new “security force assistance brigade” assigned to advise Afghan soldiers as the U.S. prepares to remove all combat troops by the end of 2014. Because of "insider attacks" against foreign troops, most Afghan soldiers are not allowed to have loaded weapons on base.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Lt. Col. Robert Kuth, center, of the 2nd Battalion, 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division speaks to an Afghan National Army officer with the help of an interpreter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Afghan soldiers warm their hands by the fire as winter sets in. At many Afghan bases, there is fuel only to power communications equipment and not enough for heat or lights.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

U.S. soldiers wait to be transported by helicopter from Forward Operating Base Naghlu.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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As American troops shift from combat to advising, the ominous specter of “insider attacks” by Afghan troops has strained the relationship between the two armies.

Sixty-two Western coalition troops have been killed this year in 46 such attacks, leaving many American soldiers deeply suspicious of their erstwhile allies. At the same time, some Afghan officers and soldiers say they feel abandoned and patronized. After 11 years, they say, certain Americans still don’t respect Afghan customs.

Moreover, they complain that the U.S. is pulling out without providing the weapons and equipment needed to hold off the Taliban. “The Americans have the weapons, so they go wherever they want. It’s like this is their country,” military public affairs officer Maj. Ghulam Ali said with a weary shrug.

Officers and soldiers encountered during three days spent with an Afghan army brigade were upbeat and enthusiastic about taking over the fight. But many also said they felt slighted by what they perceive as a chronic lack of resources.


  1. February 12, 2013, 8:05 pm

    Does not matter what we give them, they will always want more!

  2. February 17, 2013, 2:11 pm

    They lack enough " military equipment" because when the U.S. military gives them supplies, many times their commander sells most of it for his own personal gain. The weapons, ammo and other supplies often end up in the hands of the Taliban. Why would we give the Afghans more supplies? So they can sell it to their "enemies" who can then kill Americans with our own weapons? Come on!

    By: Katie

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