19 Jul 2011

Training role not enough, says Afghan politician

10:23 am on 19 July 2011

A senior Afghan politician says international troops, including New Zealand's SAS, need to fight alongside local forces because training alone is not enough.

On Monday, it was revealed that New Zealand SAS troops became involved when attackers stormed a house in the capital, Kabul. The New Zealand troops were with the local police crisis response unit.

Prime Minister John Key says the SAS troops were mentoring Afghan forces and became involved in the operation when it was clear their help was needed.

Mr Key said most of the operation was handled by Afghan security forces.

The deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament, Khalid Pashtoon, told Radio New Zealand News that his government has always wanted the international forces to be more involved in the country's security operations.

Mr Pashtoon said foreign forces need to be involved in operations "side by side" with local forces to pass on practical skills, as simply teaching them is not enough. He said officers needed more extensive training.

Last month, the SAS also became actively involved in a major security operation in Kabul and two of its troops were injured.

The BBC's correspondent in Kabul, Bilal Sarwary, told Morning Report the evidence on the ground would suggest that the SAS is not only embedded as mentors but is taking an active role.

The former governor of Uruzgan province and aide to the President Hamid Karzai, Jan Mohammad Khan, and an MP for Uruzgan were killed in Sunday's attack on a house in Kabul.

Afghan forces 'not ready'

A former Afghan foreign minister says Khalid Pashtoon's statement reflects a wider view within the government of Afghanistan.

Najibullah Lafraie, now a political studies lecturer at Otago University, told Nine to Noon the country is not ready to fight the Taliban without international help.

He says the Afghan government is worried it will not be able to survive without the support of international forces.

Mr Lafraie says the fact that the SAS had to intervene directly in the latest incident is evidence that Afghan security forces are not able, despite years of training, to carry out the task by themselves and that the so-called exit strategy is failing.