SIGAR warns against further Afghan drawdown
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has warned current plans to reduce the number of American troops in the war-torn country will leave Afghan forces with “capability gaps” in a number of areas.
The US government watchdog in its quarterly report on Friday said the gaps could threaten the success of reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
It said a number of major challenges continued to hinder efforts of the US and its allies at strengthening the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) and further troop withdraw would likely exacerbate the situation.
“The US ability to influence operational outcomes on the ground is constricting, while (that of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) has not correspondingly risen,” the report said.
It said the US lost much of its ability to directly observe the capabilities and effectiveness of Afghan forces since troop reductions last year, calling it one major challenge. Uncertainty over Afghan troop numbers is also a concern, as is the Afghans’ ability to properly manage US financial aid to support the military and police, SIGAR said.
The U.S. is currently scheduled to draw down its 9,800 troops in Afghanistan to about 5,500 by the start of next year. This reduction, SIGAR said, could result in “gaps in air support, signals, intelligence and other areas.”In light of the challenges, it said the long-term stability of Afghan forces remains uncertain.
“Without the ability to call on US and coalition military components for help … without the strong monitoring and mentoring arm of US and coalition troops, it is increasingly questionable whether the ANDSF will develop into a robust and sustainable force,” the report said.
Maintaining Afghanistan’s security forces costs about $5 billion a year, with roughly 80 percent of the amount coming from the United States. SIGAR’s analysis shows that even with this level of funding, Afghan forces are unable to sustain themselves in many areas.
“With the Afghan economy under great stress facing years of low growth Afghanistan’s difficulty in contributing significantly to its security costs will persist,” the watchdog said.
The United States and its allies will meet in Warsaw this summer to discuss how to share the burden of financing the costs of Afghan forces.
SIGAR said providing effective security is “essential for the survival of the Afghan state — and for the success of the reconstruction effort. Neither can deliver lasting gains without the other.”
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