A Modern Army in a Traditional Society

Yesterday, social media reminded people ofSoldier Day“, a day once celebrated to honor the fallen soldiers of Afghanistan‘s security forces against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. This year, however, people discussed the dire condition of members of previous security forces, who are either in refugee or in hiding. Occasions such as this are opportunities to look at the vulnerability of the country‘s important institutions, identify the loopholes and shortcomings, and think of a more fundamental solution for the future. In all countries of the world, from the most dictatorial to the most democratic, having a national and professional army is of special importance and is considered the backbone of the government. The importance of having adisciplined andready to protect defense force dates back to the dawn of the earliest settlements and the development of early civilizations. From ancient times, people such as Plato, in addition to writing on political philosophy, went into great detail to discuss the importance and vital role that the army plays in governance. The same holds true today; in other words, the role and importance of that institution has never diminished, only the state affairs have become more complex.

Today, military rule is generally seen as authoritarian and undesirable, and is only accepted in very rare and exceptional cases. In the modern world, it is widely understood that the military should not be involved in politics; its purpose is to defend against foreign aggressors, not to interfere in the lives of citizens. Professional armies, as set out by the law, should support stability and peace; for example, if a country is in chaos, the army has a duty to intervene and restore order and the rule of law.

Throughout history, the army institution in Afghanistan has been disintegrated multiple times. In the mid20th century, significant efforts were made to create a modern army, with the necessary military equipment being prepared and officers being sent abroad for professional training. As a result, a semimodern military institution was established and the government was praised for having such an army. However, the influence of Communist and Muslim Brotherhood political groups within the Army caused it to be diverted from its professional path, exposed to hateful ideologies, and dragged into politics, being misused to stage coups and fight civil wars. During the two decades of the Republic, another attempt was made to form a professional army, but this too was not successful due to the prevalence of ethnic tensions, politicization, ideological and religious tendencies, and dependence on foreign countries. Furthermore, corruption severely damaged its credibility among the public, leading to a lack of trust in the army to stand with them in difficult times. Of course, there were dedicated soldiers and officers in the ranks of the army who made sacrifices and their contributions cannot be overlooked; they are the true heroes of this land.

At present, Afghanistan is under the control of a group known for its violent, explosive, suicidal, and murderous behavior. This group is unfamiliar with modern statehood and good governance, thus they are unable to train a professional and modern army. To ensure a successful postTaliban era, it is essential that all parties agree to form a professional army, free from corruption and interference, and composed of both men and women regardless of their ethnic background. Let us not delay this important endeavor; let us begin today.