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From M16s to boots Afghan troops feel slighted

center_img “The Americans have really much better equipment than us,” he said. “Our vehicles and weapons are very weak compared to theirs.”A soldier named Abdul Karim said he’d prefer a 30-year-old Russian-made Kalashnikov to an M16. The Americans “are giving us old weapons and try to make them look new with polish and paint. We don’t want their throwaways,” he said.In Kabul, Lt. Col. Timothy M. Stauffer, U. S. Army Director, Public Affairs, rejected the complaints about aging weapons, saying the Afghans get basically the same firearms that U.S. soldiers have. “I am not sure their complaints are valid,” he said. “The equipment they are asking for and are being issued is sufficient to meet the current threat.”Most American troops in Afghanistan carry the M4, a shorter version of the M16. Both models have been criticized by some in the military for jamming in harsh conditions and requiring greater maintenance. The Kalashnikov is known as an easier-upkeep, all-conditions weapon, fueling its popularity in the developing world.At the firing range, the complaints flew thick and fast. Col. Abdul Haleem Noori grabbed a young recruit’s foot to show a gash in the heel of his boot. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “It’s only two months old and it is falling apart, and we are told it is supposed to last one year,” he said. The footwear was made by a manufacturer under contract to the Afghan Ministry of Defense.Even the 3-year-old army band bemoans their equipment, including soldered trumpets dating back to the 1970s.The conversation with Aga, the firing range instructor, shifted from poor equipment to the disturbingly high number of so-called “green-on-blue” attacks, a U.S. military term for Afghan soldiers killing their NATO counterparts.Aga, a squat man with piercing brown eyes, gave off a strange mix of resentment, envy and appreciation. He didn’t want the international soldiers to leave. “We still need them to bring peace,” he said.Then he explained the issue of respect.When foreign forces patrol with Afghan forces, “they don’t respect us. When we see that they don’t have respect we get angry. Even myself, I have seen how they behave in Afghanistan. They have sometimes been cruel. I saw in operations they have entered mosques, I have seen this myself.”Another complaint: The foreigners don’t let civilians drive in front of their convoys even if they are rushing a sick person to treatment, referring to the heavy security measures U.S. troops impose around their vehicles. Sponsored Stories Col. Ahmed Jan Ahmedzai said incidents like the mistaken burning of Qurans at Bagram Air Base makes recruits susceptible to Taliban overtures. New recruits are watched carefully for signs of sympathy for the Taliban, he said.Because of the attacks, international soldiers are no longer present at firing ranges, said Col. Asif Khan Saburi, in charge of recruit training in five provinces.“When we have shooting practice I have to look at two things: How my soldier is shooting and that he doesn’t fire at the U.S. soldiers,” he said.The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul did not respond to several requests by The Associated Press for comment on the Afghan perception of a lack of respect.In May last year, a U.S. Army team led by a behavioral scientist released a 70-page survey that revealed both Afghan and American soldiers hold disturbingly negative perceptions of the other.According to the survey, many Afghan security personnel found U.S. troops “extremely arrogant, bullying and unwilling to listen to their advice” and sometimes lacking concern about Afghans’ safety in combat. They accused the Americans of ignoring female privacy and using denigrating names for Afghans. Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img

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