Reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is in a perilous state: Sopko
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok: Reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is in a perilous state despite the US Congress having appropriated $113 billion for this purpose since 2002, John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said Thursday.
“The reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is in a perilous state. Afghanistan has had the lead responsibility for its own security for more than a year now, and is struggling with a four-season insurgency, high attrition, and capability challenges,” Sopko said in his address to the Harvard University.
Sopko said since fiscal year 2002, the US Congress has appropriated more than $113 billion to reconstruct Afghanistan. The $113 billion appropriated so far, when adjusted for inflation, exceeds the total spending under the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Western Europe after the Second World War, he said.
“Conditions are not, to put it mildly, what we would hope to see 15 years into a counterinsurgency and nation-building campaign,” he said adding that large parts of Afghanistan are effectively off-limits to foreign personnel, whether they are managing projects or responsible for oversight functions.
Other consequences of insecurity are less headline-grabbing, but are still evil omens for the future of a desperately poor and largely illiterate country. Last month, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Education was quoted as saying 714 schools have been closed and more than 2.5 million children were being denied schooling, mainly because of the war, he said.
“Bombings, raids, ambushes, land mines, and temporary seizures of key points can all serve to undermine the government’s credibility and affect security force and popular morale,” he said.
Sopko said security is where most of the US reconstruction funding has gone, about 61 percent of the $113 billion Congress has appropriated since fiscal year 2002, or $68 billion.
“Security is the essential ingredient for establishing a credible, viable, legitimate government—and for persuading insurgents that they need to negotiate,” he said and noted that the Afghan security sector is the setting for many of the instances where SIGAR has documented that something has gone wrong in the mostly US-funded Afghanistan reconstruction effort.
As a result of the US military drawdown in Afghanistan, the MOD has lost much of its ability to collect reliable information and data on Afghan security capability and effectiveness.
“We continue to rely on Afghan reporting on unit strengths—a concern because the rolls may contain thousands of “ghost” personnel whose costs we pay and whose absence distorts realistic assessments of Afghan capabilities,” Sopko said.
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