Ninety Percent of the Afghan Army Can't Read

As with Iraq, one of the major requirements for getting our troops out of Afghanistan is providing that nation's military with the training and...

As with Iraq, one of the major requirements for getting our troops out of Afghanistan is providing that nation's military with the training and resources it needs to maintain its own security. The hurdles to accomplishing that transfer of power are many, and we're now learning that we can add widespread illiteracy to the list. From the Associated Press:Polls show that the army is the most trusted Afghan institution, a testament to the relative success it has had, especially compared with the police, who are widely derided as corrupt. But about 90 percent of those deciding to join the army are illiterate, according to U.S. military officers involved in the training.That's higher than the 75 percent national illiteracy rate, because military recruits come from lower classes where few know how to read. The lack of basic reading skills slows down progress in an already short 10-week training course. It means soldiers cannot use maps properly or understand the army's code of conduct. It also increases the difficulty of building a solid core of noncommissioned officers-sergeants who are the backbone of every successful army, responsible for conveying a commander's written orders to the troops.Apparently, illiteracy is also prevalent among Taliban forces; however, the smaller, more targeted nature of their attacks and their familiarity with the region means that it's less of a problem.Widespread illiteracy and poverty tend to go hand-in-hand, and both of those hurdles are at the root of some serious national problems in Afghanistan. So it would stand to reason that by addressing illiteracy in the military, we could take quite a step toward some real progress-not only on the battlefield, but across the country.Photo (cc) by Sgt. Charles Brice via Flickr user Sgt. Aaron Duncan, Alpha Company, 201st Brigade Support Battalion, explains a traffic control point to the Afghan Security Guards. Via Matt Yglesias.
via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading