CAMP KHELAGAY, BAGHLAN, Afghanistan -- What most impressed the Hungarian army captain about his Afghan army counterparts wasn't so much their proficiency at maneuvering and holding their own under enemy fire -- they've been at it for a while, after all.
Rather, it was their increasingly apparent ability to plan and execute entire operations almost on their own that impressed the captain, whose name must be withheld under standard Hungarian army media rules. The Afghans have proven capable of conducting difficult and dangerous missions such as finding and disposing of deadly roadside bombs laid down by the Taliban, the biggest threat to coalition forces in Afghanistan and a huge challenge even for NATO counterexplosives teams.
"They are very good," the captain says. "They picked up more than a dozen IEDs [improvised explosive devices] ahead of us during a three-day operation in February. And they are fast -- faster than NATO." The captain and his unit mentor an infantry battalion of the Afghan National Army (ANA) in the volatile northern province of Baghlan.