08/25/2010 03:02 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Increasing Literacy Is Key To Training The Afghan Army

The current focus of the NATO presence in Afghanistan is to train the Afghan army and police force to take over responsibility for the country's security.

According to Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who is commanding the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, low literacy rates among Afghan soldiers have proven to be one of the most daunting hurdles stalling the training effort.

Wired reports,

Right now, only 18 percent of those 243,000 cops and grunts have more than a Kindergarten-level ability to read. Which means they've got major trouble doing everything from keeping track of their gear to following a battle plan to getting paid, the general in charge of the NATO training effort says.

To reduce illiteracy, NATO forces are instituting mandatory reading classes, hoping to bring all members of the Afghan security forces to at least a 1st grade reading level.

"Unless we take on literacy, we truly will never professionalize this force," Lt. Gen. William Caldwell tells reporters.

Subscribe to Must Reads.
The internet's best stories, and interviews with their authors.