Project Unsustainable: Why the Afghan National Security Forces Need to be On Reality Teevee Now

Well, just about everything is reality teevee now, why not our reconstruction project centered on the Afghan National Security Forces?  The United States and donor countries are paying for it and it’s kind of like the hollywoody equivalent of army and police training. There are well meaning good guys, and bad meaning bad guys, insurmountable challenges, military toys, guys learning to shoot straight, contractor reps on near heart attacks, and gazillions of money floating around for this or that. There’s gotta be drama in all that, don’t ya think?

And the best part is, this reality show may have better longevity prospects as teevee show goes, because hey, we might actually be in Afghanistan beyond 2014 (when we’re supposed to leave).  If rumors are true that negotiations are underway for the United States to stay in Afghanistan until 2024, that would fit perfectly with the IMF’s prediction that the Afghan government will be incapable of paying ANSF costs until at least 2023.

Afghanistan is in fact, playing a double game to suit its interest — badmouthing the United States when it suits it’s need and negotiating behind the lime lights to get the United States to stay to protect its interest.   If we’re asked to stay beyond 2014, don’t mistake it for true love; we have the juice, that’s all (even if that juice was bought on credit); we’re like the deep pocket sugar person that the dysfunctional individual with a sweet habit can’t live with and can’t live without – a very messy relationship.

DynCorp trainer with Afghan National Police recruits.
(U.S.Air Force photo cited by CWC)

In any case, the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) cited Project Unsustainable above as a formidable example of potential waste in the U.S.-funded contracting for training of, and facilities construction for, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), comprising the Army, Border Police, and National Police. Excerpt below:

Between FY 2006 and FY 2011, Congress appropriated nearly $39 billion to set up and maintain the ANSF; the fiscal year 2012 budget request would add almost $13 billion to that total. Nearly half of the FY 2012 request—over $5 billion—would go toward clothing, equipping, and paying the ANSF.22

Prospects for the Afghan government’s sustaining the ANSF are dubious. The entire country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for FY 2011 is about $16 billion at the official exchange rate, and the national government’s domestic revenues are about $2 billion.23 The Afghan Ministry of Finance budget proposal for 2011-2012 indicates that given the increased security costs from the increase in size of the ANSF, the Afghan government is expected to continue to depend on donor grants for up to 30% of its operating budget.24

The outlook for sustaining the Afghan army and national police is complicated by several factors:

▪▪The ANSF, currently numbering about 305,000 personnel, is growing toward a newly authorized strength of 352,000, which will increase sustainment costs.

▪▪The Commission has received a preliminary U.S. military estimate of ANSF sustainment costs for just the period 2014-2017 in the neighborhood of $30 billion.

▪▪The International Monetary Fund has concluded that the Afghan government will be incapable of paying ANSF costs until at least 2023.25

▪▪Donor-community support depends upon unpredictable political decisions that may be heavily influenced by severe fiscal pressure on most developed countries’ budgets.

In a similar vein, the Acting Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction told the Commission, “The Government of Afghanistan has never had the financial resources to sustain ANP [Afghan National Police] salaries at either the current or projected levels.”

Besides spending billions on contracts to train, clothe, and equip the ANSF, the United States has also committed $11.4 billion since 2005 to build bases, police stations, border outposts, and other facilities for the ANSF. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded two contracts in 2010 for ITT Corporation to provide $800 million in operation-and-maintenance services for 663 ANSF facilities over a five-year period.

The Afghan government has already indicated that it cannot pay such costs from its resources.29 The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction told the Commission at its January 24, 2011, construction hearing that “the entire $11.4 billion [in construction spending] is at risk,” and “both contracts are expected to exhaust their funding well before [the end of ] their five-year performance period.”30

Anyway, if we end up spending the next 12-13 years in Afghanistan training its armed forces, I only have one request.  Please, please, please — can we please have this on teevee 24/7, 365 days a year so we can watch this project continue to unfold in real time?  And if SIGAR needs to make arrests, can we do that with cameras rolling, too? Because why not?

Pardon me? Why do we need to see this 24/7, 365 days until the 2024 season? Um, silly — so we can see on teevee just how stoopid we’ve all been in allowing a sugar old baby with a bad habit to play us this well.

Michele Bachmann’s Soviet Union must be laughing its head off right now.

Related posts:
On to 2024: Our Pretend 51st State of Afghanistan — Not/Not a Laughing Matter | Aug 22, 2011

Cops Kabul Edition: Building Afghanistan’s National Police at $1.26 Billion | Jul 29, 2011

US Mission Afghanistan: Ambassador Crocker returns, assures everyone “There will be no rush for the exits…” and that’s okay since our soldiers for 2023 will start kindergarten this fall | Tuesday, July 26, 2011 |

$6 Billion Later, Afghan Cops Aren’t Ready to Serve | Diplopundit | Mar 22, 2010

Weapons Accountability in Afghanistan | Diplopundit | Feb 16, 2009