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Cablegate: Ana Retention Rates Show Improvement; More Work

VZCZCXRO1919
PP RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0564/01 0511244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201244Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6250
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3671
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3474

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 000564

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A, S/CRS, S/CT,
EUR/RPM, INR
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG,
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CSTC-A, CG CJTF-76, POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR ASEC NATO PTER PGOV AF
SUBJECT: ANA RETENTION RATES SHOW IMPROVEMENT; MORE WORK
AHEAD


1. (SBU) Summary: For the Afghan National Army to
grow rapidly to the target strength of 70,000
personnel by December 2008, traditionally high AWOL
and attrition rates need to be reduced. The Afghan
Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Combined Security
Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) are working
hard to lower these rates through a combination of
financial incentives and implementation of programs
designed to foster improved morale. The size of
training class kandaks (battalions) in basic military
training has also increased from a low of 600/class in
January 2006 to 2,000/class in January 2007 with
further increases being considered. CSTC-A,s
Commanding General, MG Durbin has briefed the MOD
Chief of Army Staff General Bismullah Khan and the MOD
leadership on the need for increased MOD efforts to
improve retention rates. There have recently been
some signs of success, although work remains to bring
the rates in line with target figures to reach the
70,000 goal by December 2008. Support from Coalition
partners - in particular in fully meeting the ISAF
requirement for Operational Mentoring and Liaison
Teams (OMLTs) - is essential. End summary.

1. According to CSTC-A statistics, as of January 31
the assigned number of ANA personnel was 32,285. This
includes 2,419 at MOD/General Staff; 1,372 at
sustaining institutions; 6,818 at intermediate
commands; and 21,676 in Corps Forces (five Regional
Combat Corps and Air Corps). An additional 7,421
personnel were in initial training, of which the
majority (6,330) was at Kabul Military Training Center
(KMTC). The number of trained ANA present for duty
was approximately 25,400. Of these approximately
2,900 were AWOL and 4,000 were on authorized leave.

AWOL and Present For Duty Rates
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) AWOL rates for those ANA personnel not
assigned to Corps Forces commands were negligible, due
to a combination of factors including living closer to
home and not being deployed to combat duty. For the
Corps Forces, as of January 31, of the 21,676 assigned
Corps Force personnel, 15,033 were present for duty.
This included 2,859 AWOL and 2,882 on authorized
leave. CSTC-A reports that AWOL rates have dropped
somewhat for the five regional corps since early 2006,
with notable improvements in the 201 and 209 Corps.
Whereas reported AWOLs Army-wide on January 15, 2006
were 16 percent (3,133 of 19,345), the reported rate
for January 31, 2007 was 13 percent (2,882 of 21,676).
(Note: This figure includes a two percent AWOL rate
for the Air Corps, a unit that was still statistically
insignificant in January 2006.) AWOL is defined as
absent without leave for 60 days or less. After 60
days enlisted personnel are dropped from the roles
while officers are dropped after 30 days. This is
reflected in the statistics as a drop in the number of
assigned personnel. (Note: The statistics show that
the Corps Forces assigned strength grew by 2,161
personnel in the 12 months from January 2006 to
January 2007 (19,515 to 21,676). The slow growth in
Corps Forces was due to a variety of factors including
attrition, AWOL rates and combat losses, but also to
an increased emphasis on filling other commands. In
particular, the Air Corps grew from 170 personnel in
January 2006 to 1,222 in January 2007. The total
growth in assigned personnel in the ANA was 5,421 over
the 12-month period (26,864 to 32,285). End note.)

3. (SBU) Breakdown of AWOL rates by Corps is as
follows:

KABUL 00000564 002 OF 004

201 (Northeast): 7 percent
203 (Southeast): 15 percent
205 (South): 18 percent
207 (West): 18 percent
209 (North): 10 percent
Air Corps: 2 percent

Present for duty rates were as follows:

201: 83 percent of assigned, 60.4 percent of
authorized
203: 74 percent of assigned, 49.9 percent of
authorized
205: 66 percent of assigned, 45.6 percent of
authorized
207: 62 percent of assigned, 39.6 percent of
authorized
209: 78 percent of assigned, 52.4 percent of
authorized.
Air Corps: 90 percent of assigned, 38.5 percent of
authorized.

(Note: The present for duty percentage is calculated
against the current authorization numbers for a
50,000-man force. Future comparisons against a
70,000-man ANA would result in a decrease of all
Present For Duty percentages until additional
recruitment/deployments catch up. (Of the 50,000-man
ANA, approximately 30,000 are designated for the Corps
Forces; of a 70,000-man ANA, the number would increase
to approximately 50,000.) End Note.)

Reasons for Improvement
-----------------------

4. (SBU) The lower AWOL rates for 209 and particularly
201 Corps are significant. Both those corps have been
in the fight - 201 Corps in the Eastern border area,
209 Corps in rotation to the South. For each of
these corps, two factors have positively impacted
morale and consequently resulted in lower AWOL rates:

- Effective partnering between the ANA and Coalition
counterparts (including German OMLTs);

- Development and implementation of a Red/Amber/Green
rotation cycle of active duty/training/reserve. For
209 Corps, this has come about informally as troops
are rotated into and out of the fight in the South.
201 Corps has implemented a more systematic rotation
cycle. Embedded trainers report that the morale boost
for troops is significant as the red/amber/green cycle
provides a predictable schedule to the soldiers. They
understand that they will receive a specific amount of
time to recover from the stress of battle.

5. (SBU) CSTC-A cites several other factors for the
gradually improving AWOL rates:

- Proactive efforts by the Afghan Minister of Defense
and Chief of General Staff to replace underperforming
ANA leadership and significantly improve the quality
of life standards;

- Implementation of pay reforms that increase ANA
salaries;

- Establishment of ANA delegations tasked with
identifying, tracking, and returning AWOL personnel.
These delegations, which have just begun their work,
will engage with local elders, sponsors, and mullahs
in the home communities of individuals that are AWOL.

KABUL 00000564 003 OF 004

Reenlistment Rate
-----------------

6. (SBU) Another factor impacting ANA growth is the
reenlistment rate. This was predicted to be a
problem, as soldiers recruited in 2003 reached the end
of their three-year contracts. Early indications
confirmed this concern - the overall ANA reenlistment
rate from March to December 2006 was 39 percent (859
of 2,183 elected to reenlist). Improvement appears to
have begun, however. For the month of January 2007,
the reenlistment rate was 69 percent (157 of 228).
CSTC-A assesses that the improved rate is due
primarily to financial incentives implemented in the
ANA pay reforms. These include a USD 100 reenlistment
bonus, a significant pay raise (USD 35-55/mo) when
entering the fourth year of ANA service, and the
prospect of future longevity pay raises. The factors
listed in paragraphs 4 and 5 also contributed to
higher reenlistment rates.

Kandak Size Increased
---------------------

7. (SBU) Finally, in order to rapidly increase the
size of the ANA, CSTC-A has worked with MOD to
increase the size of the ANA recruit kandaks. Whereas
Kandak 50 (January 2006) had 654 personnel, Kandak 62
(January 2007) included 2,004 personnel. (Note: The
larger kandaks, which are part of the expansion plan
briefed to Washington by CSTC-A, have put a strain on
KMTC resources and personnel. MOD and CSTC-A are
working to remedy this. End note.) The success in
obtaining larger numbers of recruits for the ANA is
attributable in part to recruiting conferences led by
high-ranking MOD personnel, which are held two to
three times per month in various provinces. These
conferences have attracted strong attendance and have
been reported favorably in the Afghan media, including
television news.

The Way Ahead
-------------

8. (SBU) Continuing to bring down attrition and AWOL
rates will be critical to the success of building the
ANA. In a mid-December 2006 briefing to ANA Chief of
Army Staff Bismullah Khan, MOD leadership, and then-
CFC-A Commanding General Eikenberry, CSTC-A Commanding
General Durbin and the CSTC-A Defense Reform
Directorate staff stated that to reach 70,000 ANA by
December 31, 2008, AWOL rates will have to drop to 10%
nationwide and retention rates will have to rise to 75
percent. (Note: This estimate was based on a kandak
size of 2,000. CSTC-A is considering the possibility
of even larger kandaks - up to 3,000 - if facilities
and resources allow. End note.) CSTC-A Commanding
General Durbin noted that while the USG can supply the
equipment and trainers, the Afghan government must
commit to retaining the troops. The MOD officials
agreed that more must be done to "plug the leaky
bucket." Improvements in AWOL and retention rates
since this meeting confirm the commitment of the MOD
and CSTC-A. However, reaching the ambitious targets
set in the December meeting, especially the 10 percent
AWOL rate, will not be easy. Critical to the effort
is international mentoring and partnering of ANA
troops, both at the command level and through
ETTs/OMLTs. At present, of the 69 OMLTs that non-US
NATO committed to, less than one-third (20) have been
filled, and of those 20 only 13 have been validated,
or certified fully mission-ready. Fully resourcing

KABUL 00000564 004 OF 004


the OMLT requirement will be essential not only to
improving the quality of the ANA, but also to
improving retention.
NEUMANN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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