For several years now the Stephen Harper government in Ottawa, like military and political leaders in Washington, have stressed training up the Afghan National Army to take over from western forces in fighting the Taliban. For instance, just before Christmas, Defence Minister Peter MacKay made a point of congratulating 20 new graduates from a junior staff officers’ training program in Kabul. But the message of progress now looks hollow. The New York Times reports from the field that claims the Afghan military is planning the missions and leading them don’t square with what journalists are witnessing. The story chronicles everything from lax discipline, to officer arrogance, to Afghan soldiers who don’t aim before pulling the trigger. In the operations described, American Marines lead in every sense. Not a promising picture as the Canada plans to pull out its troops next year and the U.S. to begin drawing down theirs.