On December 1, 2002 President Hamid Karzai signed a decree establishing the Afghan National Army, bringing all Afghan military forces, ex-resistance fighters and other armed groups under the control of the Ministry of Defense (MoD). To be developed by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, ANA’s aim is to assume responsibility for land operations. The Bonn Agreement calls for the establishment of a 70,000 strong army. The reform of the MoD and general staff began in spring 2003 with the aim of creating a broad-based organization staffed by professionals from a balance of ethnic groups.
In July of 2003, members of the ANA were deployed for the first time along with US-led coalition troops. Before the deployment, the soldiers completed 10-weeks of rigorous training. As training progresses and the size expands, new capabilities such as engineering, medical and scout skills will become part of the Army’s training, support and deployment.
Initially, ANA was hit by mass defections and despite being outnumbered by private militias by 5:1, however, the new ANA has fared well. It is currently working with US-led coalition troops to hunt down al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants. It also follows strict orders from the MoD to quell infighting in parts of the country.
As of April 12, 2007, the army was listed as having 46,177 soldiers and has seen deployment to various locations. These deployments have been to engage the Taliban and al-Qaeda, to stop factional fighting and to implement central government orders.
The ANA is also playing a significant role in the ongoing Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) of armed combatants in the country, by not only absorbing the weapons but also offering an opportunity for those who wish to join the ANA.
In addition, they also conduct routine patrols on highways hit by banditry and in districts to maintain security. In some cases, they also give medical help to poor villagers if needed.
To date, no regional commander or private militia has fought the ANA, which has gained everyone’s trust.
$10 billion-a-year American effort to build Afghanistan's security forces focused largely on wooing recruits, teaching them basic shooting skills, and shipping them off to fight the Taliban—with progress measured by manpower growth.
Afghan National Army: 171,600
For more information, go to the Afghan National Army\'s (MOD) site.