Back to the Afghan Future
The return of the Gurkhas.
In the Marja offensive, the Marines aimed to field an Afghan soldier for every Marine deployed—though they only managed a one-to-two ratio at the start of the operation—and they hardly ever stop aspiring to Afghanize the fight (and even moved quickly to Afghanize the peace, installing a readymade Afghan government for Helmand after the assault). What differs from the Gurkha model is that unlike the British, the Marines possess enough resources to both clear the area thoroughly first and then deploy for more culturally sensitive missions—which is the stage where the Gurkhas could prove most useful.
Firm footholds have softened and crumbled before, of course. But if the Marines’ Marja operations succeed, and Helmand is safe enough to try police training again, the Gurkhas will be back there soon. The British government is set to send 1,200 more of them to Afghanistan this year. Whether to swap Bollywood duets, to fight, or both is yet to be seen.
Graeme Wood and Anup Kaphle were South Asian Journalists Association reporting fellows in Afghanistan in 2009.
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