The United States is at war in Afghanistan. It is not a war we can win without nation building. We cannot nation build without soldiers and civilians fluent in Pashto. In the US, we just are not producing Pashto fluent soldiers or civilians.
In Oregon, I tried in HB 2605 (here) to give Oregon students a chance to learn Pashto. HB 2605 would have established a “Critical Need Foreign Language Study Abroad Scholarship Program within Department of Education to enable students to learn critically needed foreign languages”. Pashto is on the federal list of critically need foreign languages. The scholarships would have been for $3,000 for an academic year and were intended to be in addition to the Oregon Go Global High School Study Abroad grants from local school districts authorized by HB 2719 (here). Both HB 2605 and HB 2719 have now died in committee. I also think it is unlikely that there is now any place in the Pashto speaking regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan safe enough to send a US high school student to study.
The United States
needs 'thousands' of Pashto speakers to have any chance of success in winning
them over, said Mason, recalling that 5,000 U.S. officials had learned
Vietnamese by the end of the Vietnam War. 'The Foreign Service Institute should
be turning out 200 to 300 Pashto speakers a year,' he said.
But according to an official at the State Department's Bureau of Human Resources, the United States has turned out a total of only 18 Foreign Service officers who can speak Pashto, and only two of them are now serving in Afghanistan –- both apparently in Kabul.
The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California trains roughly 30 to 40 military personnel in Pashto each year, according to media relations officer Brian Lamar, most of whom are enlisted men in military intelligence.
That indicates that there are very few U.S. nationals capable of working with local Pashtuns on development and political problems. The National War College's Goodson said the almost complete absence of Pashto-speaking U.S. officials in Afghanistan 'belies the U.S. commitment to a nation-building and counter-insurgency approach.'"