SIGAR queries secrecy around ANSF progress
KABUL (Pajhwok): As foreign combat troops prepare to leave the country, an American federal watchdog on Thursday voiced its deep trouble over the US military’s decision to keep under wraps a report on Afghan security forces’ progress.
The summary assessment of the readiness of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) had always been made public until this quarter, when it became classified, said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
In its quarterly report, SIGAR said: “It is not clear what security purpose is served by denying the American public even high-level information.” It also expressed concern over the high attrition rate in the Afghan National Army.
It added the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) move to classify the executive summary of its report on Afghan forces denied Americans an essential tool to measure the success or failure of the single most costly feature of the Afghanistan reconstruction drive.
About 12,500 international soldiers will stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, working mostly as trainers and advisers. Less than 10,000 of them will be American.
The watchdog reported to Congress some US-funded reconstruction projects had perverse outcomes, like expensive irrigation projects that seem to have contributed to an increase in poppy cultivation in three provinces.
Over the past 12 years, the US has spent more than id="mce_marker"04 billion on Afghanistan’s reconstruction, with another id="mce_marker"4.5 billion still in the pipeline to be disbursed.
SIGAR chief John F. Sopko faulted the award of US contracts to supporters of the insurgency. “The army’s refusal to suspend or debar supporters of the insurgency from receiving government contracts because the information supporting these recommendations is classified is not only legally wrong, but contrary to sound policy and national-security goals,”
He urged Secretary of Defense and Congress to change the misguided policy and impose common sense on the army’s suspension and debarment programme. In 2013, one contractor clearly identified as providing explosives to the Afghan insurgency was permitted access to an ISAF-controlled facility.
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