I Built an African Army. Here’s what it will take to build Afghanistan’s…

Sean McFate in Foreign Policy:

ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 12 09.44 In May 2004, I was hired for an unusual job: The U.S. State Department contracted DynCorp International, a private military company, to build Liberia's army. I was tapped as an architect of this new force. Previously I had worked for both the U.S. military and Amnesty International. I was a rare bird — an ex-paratrooper and human rights defender — and thus a good fit for this unprecedented task.

When I arrived in Liberia in 2004, the country's army was, at best, a mess. After decades of civil war, soldiers' hands were as bloodied as any rebels'. The troops were undisciplined, unpaid, and undertrained. They were a motley crew that protected no one in a country where pretty much everyone was vulnerable to violence. And it was our job to turn them into a professional military.

Today, just five years later, Liberia's soldiers are among the best in the region. They have been vetted, trained, paid, and readied for action. The difference was the impact of that little-known U.S. initiative — the first of its kind — that literally rebuilt the Liberian army from scratch. Our goal was for the Liberian army to fill the role of U.N. peacekeepers as the latter were slowly phased out, and it worked astonishingly well.

Now that model might be of use again. President Barack Obama's strategy for Afghanistan is predicated on creating Afghan security forces to replace coalition soldiers.

More here. [Thanks to Feisal H. Naqvi.]