WASHINGTON: The United States has spent more than $76 billions in the last 16 years on arming the Afghan security forces, says a new report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The report, however, noted that despite spending so much money, the United States has not yet achieved its main objective: enabling the Afghan security forces to operate independently.
But the United States is likely to maintain its support to Afghanistan because the country’s “stability and security continue to face threats from the Taliban-led insurgency, criminal networks, and terrorist organisations, including the militant Islamic State group–Khorasan,” the report adds.
The United States began providing weapons, communication devices, and other security equipment to the Afghan security forces in 2002, months after it invaded Afghanistan following the Sept11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The data that the US Department of Defence shared with GAO shows that about 86 per cent of the funds — $66 billion of the $76 billion — were provided through the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF), which was established in 2005.
As of April 2017, about $61 billions of the $66 billions of allocations made since 2005 have been disbursed. The largest expenditure of the $61 billions was for sustainment, totalling 44 per cent (over $26 billions) of all ASFF disbursements over this time period. Equipment and transportation represented the second-largest expenditure of the $61 billion, accounting for almost $18 billion, or 29 per cent.
Nearly 81 per cent of weapons provided to the Afghan security forces were rifles and pistols. The firepower funding also included more than 25,000 grenade launchers and almost 10,000 rocket-propelled weapons used by the Afghan Border Police.
Additional items given to the Afghans included 162,643 pieces of communications equipment and nearly 76,000 vehicles. These vehicles were primarily light tactical vehicles like Ford Ranger pickups and cargo trucks, but also included more than 22,000 Humvees.
The Pentagon has also shipped 110 helicopters and 98 planes since 2007, when Washington authorised sending aircraft. These aircraft could have carried the 314,000 unguided rockets, 8,700 “general-purpose bombs” and 1,815,000 helicopter rounds.
Recent reports in the US media suggest that US President Donald Trump, who has ordered a review of his country’s Afghan strategy, believes that the funds so far spent in Afghanistan have failed to achieve the desired results. He has reportedly asked his commanders to justify why they failed to subdue the insurgents even after spending billions of dollars and losing more than two thousand American soldiers in the fight.
US lawmakers are also questioning the effectiveness of their government’s Afghan strategy and have urged President Trump to change the policy.
Earlier this week, Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced a new amendment to the 2018 defence authorisation bill that aims to “strengthen the capability and capacity of the Afghan government and security forces.”
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2017