How do you build an army? One soldier at a time.
"In the last six months, we've recruited, trained, assigned and grown this army and police by 60,000 people," said General William Caldwell.
Nine years after the fall of the Taliban, the Afghan security forces are still a work in progress. The army is now 134,000 strong - the police numbers just under 110,000. The target is a force of 305,000 in two more years.
"It's just in the last two years that we have really gotten the strategy right here," Gen. Caldwell said. "We've committed the resources that are required."
Resources like more trainers and higher salaries. Soldiers and police are now paid $140 a month - the same salary the Taliban pays its fighters. The Afghans are also recruiting more aggressively.
But basic training first requires some basics. Most recruits can't read or write their own language.
"Any instruction you do, literally, has to be show and tell," Gen. Caldwell said. "The first day, the first thing we have to do is teach them how to open a door. I mean they've never driven a vehicle in their entire lives."
Even after training, most Afghan soldiers are hardly battle-ready. They lack experience and leadership skills and are often dependent on NATO for everything from supplies to logistics to aerial support.
Almost 3.500 are now enlisted in the Afghan air force.
"I wanted to serve my country - that's why I joined the air force," said Lt. Nazar Mohammad Bayat.
General Michael Boera trains Afghan pilots. His challenge is to bring the Afghans into the global community of airmen.
"That's an English speaking community," Gen. Boera said. "So imagine if you will, if you had to learn Dari or Pashtu, and pilot training and a new aircraft. And oh, by the way, you have to fly into combat."
For hands-on training, the pilots go to the U.S. General Boera says they'll be battle-ready by 2016 - five years after the first Americans are expected to pull out
If the army and the air force are showing some signs of promise, the Afghan police are the most troubled security force. With a reputation for corruption, incompetence and insubordination, they lack the most important weapon of all - the trust of the people.
The U.S. has spent more than $6 billion training the Afghan police, and $26 billion building up the Afghan army. That's a massive investment for the future. It's one that U.S. officials hope will allow the Afghans to stand and deliver when coalition forces stand down.
More from the Road Ahead Series
Petraeus on Taliban Negotiations
Gen. Petraeus on July 2011 Withdrawal
Petraeus: Iraq 'Much More Hopeful Place'
On the Afghan Frontlines with Gen. Petraeus
The Plight of Afghan Women
Final Thoughts on Afghan War