- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2013

President Obama has asserted that most of the 66,000 U.S. forces currently in Afghanistan will leave by the end of 2014, but there’s one thing that is slowing the process up: illiteracy.

Bloomberg reports that only one Afghan brigade out of 23 was ranked as capable of operating independently as of September — even with the help of advisers.

Gen. Robert Abrams, the regional commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Kandahar, has noted that 85 percent of Afghans are illiterate, which makes conducting complex operations difficult to plan, and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter adds that it “is a huge challenge and one that we have confronted for five or six years.”

While most U.S. forces are likely to be gone by 2014, some trainers will be left. Bloomberg adds that they will have to make do with Afghan soldiers who have received more than $200 million in literacy programs.

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