To most Western military leaders, if you have seen one Afghan, you have seen them all. They all look alike even though Afghanistan is divided into ethnic groups who speak different languages, have varying customs and, in all too many cases, do not like one another. The American operation in southern areas of Afghanistan is confronting the reality that many Afghan soldiers come from northern areas of the country and are members of minorities who were oppressed by the Taliban. They do not speak the same dialect as people from southern areas of the country, and are not welcomed because they are from minority groups. It is difficult finding an Afghan brigade which is not dominated by men from the north. Pashtuns are the dominant group in Afghanistan and most Taliban leaders are from this group. Unfortunately, it is all too common for an Afghan soldier to say, “I am Tajik” while the man next to him says, ‘I am Pashtun.”
Naturally, few American officers learn about these issues until they arrived in Afghanistan. This once again points out poor intelligence on the aprt of Americans and poor intelligence invariably results in poor performance by troops.