Afghan army's embarrassing failure

Does anybody still doubt General Petreaus when he says he is going to need more time to train the Afghan military to take over security once American combat troops depart?

The New York Times:

An ambitious military operation that Afghan officials had expected to be a sign of their growing military capacity instead turned into an embarrassment, with Taliban fighters battering an Afghan battalion in a remote eastern area until NATO sent in French and American rescue teams.

The fighting has continued so intensely for the past week that the Red Cross has been unable to reach the battlefield to remove the dead and wounded.

The operation, east of Kabul, was extraordinary in that it was not coordinated in advance with NATO forces and did not at first include coalition forces or air support. The Afghans called for help after 10 of their soldiers were killed and perhaps twice as many captured at the opening of the operation nine days ago.

"There are a lot of lessons to be learned here," said a senior American military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the operation was continuing. "How they started that and why they started that." He said there had been no public statements on the battle because of the need for confidentiality during a rescue mission.

Petreaus is an excellent commander, perhaps our best, but he's not a miracle worker. Training an army takes time, dedication, good equipment, and a desire on the part of the troops being trained to improve. How much Petreaus can do will probably depend mostly on the willingness of Afghan soldiers to defend their own country.