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Report Finds Afghan Military Shrinking Not Growing

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A U.S. government watchdog overseeing the Afghanistan reconstruction found the U.S. led effort to recruit, train and field the Afghan National Security Forces is about 20,000 troops below its stated goal of 352,000.

The U.S. led coalition force failed to meet the goal of 352,000 ANSF personnel by October 2012, although the Defense Department reported that it reached the goal of recruiting 352,000 ANSF personnel. These personnel are spread across the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and the Afghan Air Force.

In fact, the ANSF end strength is shrinking, not growing. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found that the number of personnel shrunk by about 4,000 troops and policemen between March 2012 and February 2013.

Inspectors noted how the U.S. led coalition has continually moved the date in which it hopes to reach the stated end strength. Defense Department officials have recently told SIGAR officials the goal is now to train, equip and field the personnel in the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police by December 2013, and the Afghan National Air Force by 2017.

Circumstances with collecting, organizing, and disseminating accurate personnel numbers have proven difficult, the report stated.

“SIGAR and others have reported that determining ANSF strength is fraught with challenges. U.S. and Coalition forces rely on the Afghan forces to report their own personnel strength numbers, which are often derived from hand-prepared personnel records in decentralized, unlinked, and inconsistent systems,” the report stated.

As of March 31, the U.S. Congress had appropriated more than $54 billion to support the ANSF.

The SIGAR report also includes a handful of “assessments” of the ANA and ANAF, as well as an accounting of U.S. money spent to equip the forces.

In particular, the report praised Afghan Local Police units for their ability to keep the Taliban at bay.

“ALP members are recruited locally, recommended by village elders, and assigned to protect their home villages. Because they are a local force, the ALP has demonstrated “a unique resilience” against infiltration by the Taliban “as anyone outside the area would be immediately recognized as a foreigner,” the report states.

In terms of equipment, the report says that as of March 31, the United States had spent $10.4 billion on equipment and vehicles for the ANSF.

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