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US funding request calls for reduction in Afghan security forces after 2014



President Obama has made a request for the "post-2014" funding of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). According to The Washington Post:

The Obama administration has made an urgent appeal for international donors to pledge more money to pay for Afghanistan's security forces after the departure of U.S. and coalition combat troops at the end of 2014.

In formal diplomatic demarches sent to 64 countries this month, and in direct appeals by President Obama and top national security aides, the administration has outlined a $4.1 billion annual budget for the Afghan army and police, according to U.S. and foreign officials.

The size of the ANSF

The US and the international community currently pay for the vast majority of ANSF expenses, with the US providing most of the funds.

The ANSF has been steadily growing in size and will reach its goal of 352,000 troops later this year. The plan is to maintain that size until the end of 2014. The post-2014 plan had not been decided. But questions as to whether the ANSF should be maintained in future at the 352,000-troop level (at a cost of $6 billion per year), or instead its size and cost should be cut, have been under consideration.

Discussions on this topic began last September, and a proposal was put forward at a NATO conference in February this year. Now, Obama is moving ahead with a formal request for funds. With the request, as reported in The Washington Post, it is apparent that the question of the future size of the ANSF has been answered.

The combined Afghan force is expected to reach a target strength of 352,000 in October.... The post-2014 budget ... anticipates additional savings from a reduction in the size of the force of up to one-third by 2017, a projection that assumes successful reconciliation with the Taliban.

A budget of $4.1 billion per year dictates that the ANSF will be cut by one-third, from 352,000 to 230,000 troops, after 2014.

The real decision made

One important point should to be noted. The budget "assumes successful reconciliation with the Taliban." That is a difficult assumption to make at this time. In his testimony to Congress last week, General John Allen, commander of ISAF forces in Afghanistan, said the decision to reduce the size of the ANSF had not yet been made, and that the decision would be contingent upon the security situation having improved enough to justify the cut. One would assume that the best time to make that determination would be sometime in 2014 when the security situation, and the status of "Taliban reconciliation," would be clearer.

But Obama's funding request indicates that the decision has already been made. There will be no contingency for maintaining the ANSF at its full strength. In other words, Obama has decided that Afghanistan's security forces will be significantly reduced after 2014, regardless of the security situation and the status of Taliban reconciliation.



READER COMMENTS: "US funding request calls for reduction in Afghan security forces after 2014"

Posted by Devin Leonard at March 29, 2012 5:13 PM ET:

I like Obama, but what is he doing?
There will be no reconciliation with the Taliban...period! Or at least there should not be, unless they give up their arms and declare an immediate ceasefire, which I highly doubt they will do. Obama needs to wake up and get it together. He needs to finacially support a robust ANSF and a even more robust US Spec Ops mission post 2014, to ensure that the Taliban and Al Qaida to not surge back and to keep the pressure on them with Spec Ops assaults and Drone attacks. What we really need is to have kept the COIN strategy, but that is a mute point.

At the very least we can fund this thing properly and not allow Afghanistan to turn into a post Iraq mess.

Posted by Gitmo-Joe at March 29, 2012 11:12 PM ET:

I like Obama too. But how about spending that $4.1 billion in America, doing some debt reduction, providing tax cuts to all Americans, providing veterans benefits, or if you are liberal, fixing our roads and schools etc . Why do we insist on shipping mountains of our cash overseas to prop-up unsustainable fiasco countries.

Posted by Afghan at March 30, 2012 10:00 AM ET:

US need to draw all its forces out Afghanistan needs 1 US special forces team in in each zone, close air support and needs fund for 352,000 ANSF, 10 marine soldier cost 1 million dollors if we send 10 thousand marines home then we will save 1 billion dollors now i dont know how many NAVY, Marines, Airforce, secial forces and National guard are there draw all out support ANSF with air and tackle al qaida with secial forces i dont think total of 500 alqaida will be in Afghanistan

Posted by jean at March 30, 2012 12:34 PM ET:

In terms of government spending 4 billion is not a huge amount; look at the aid provided to other countries. It has been several years since my direct involvement with ANSF so my perspective is dated. The progress that has been achieved is not sustainable. The culture of corruption is deeply embedded in the current IRoG. Afghan Engineering Departmant ( AED) has built significant infrastructure for the ANA/ANP . However, can they maintain it? Camp Blessing in Kunar is not a good example. Blessing was a former ODA base that became Task force HQ. It was handed over to the ANA in 2010. We were forced to re occupy with in a year. The base was in complete disrepair and looted of all valuables. Not to mention the spread of AQ/TAB influence right to the front gate.
I had a great discussion with a Bundeswehr Colonel about police training. His contention was that we ( ISAF) had already trained thousands of ANP officers in 2003-2008, but the ministries could not account for the money or what happened to the trained officers. He dealt with the same issues concerning fielding of equipment or actually the diversion of equipment, embezzlement of pay, and turnover/job abandonment. All the issues that we faced in RC east.

Posted by villiger at March 30, 2012 12:58 PM ET:

This is rather like a bald man, who is spending $120(bn) a year in getting a hair transplant, worrying about the cost of his haircut, and deciding to reduce its cost by all of $2(bn) a year some years hence, when he is not even sure whether he is going to grow a full head of hair successfully, or whether it might all unravel and fall off.

Such decisiveness is presumably a marker for leading from the front. Roll over Don Quixote!

Posted by Neo at March 31, 2012 10:57 AM ET:

Insurance losses alone from 9/11 cost upward $32.5 billion. That doesn’t even start to include all of the other slightly less direct losses such as business & airline disruption, extra security costs. Mass casualty attacks are expensive. We can't affort to maintain our current level of expenditure fending them off but it will continue to be expensive even at a much lower level. An extra billion or two added to $4.1 billion to prop up the Afghan government isn’t out of proportion even if aid only buys you a few years. What ever doubts you have about the long term viability of the project, what is the use in projecting a short budget. If the Afghan army cannot sustain it’s current size than budget accordingly when faced with that dilemma.

On a side note: The Taliban isn’t going to negotiate a meaningful agreement with the Afghan government. Hard core Islamists don’t consider agreements with unworthy parties to be binding.

Posted by Neo at March 31, 2012 5:11 PM ET:

It seems the business community in Afghanistan has its own end game. Read the NYT article linked in the news section. Capital flight is quickly becoming a problem. At this point I could see business flight being as destabilizing as the current insurgent level. The Obama administration is sending a lot of mixed signals, but its troop drawdown deadlines tell everyone they are quitting. Everyone sees it.

Posted by Gitmo-Joe at April 1, 2012 7:31 PM ET:

The 9/11 attack cost estimates are between $500 billion and $1 Trillion, not including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Worse than that, the attacks changed our culture. I think we all agree we want to prevent such terrorist attacks.

China, France, Russia and just about everyone else do not want to be the target next time so the intelligence agencies work together on this - a powerful alliance.

The question here is this; Is America camping out in Afghanistan for 10 years and propping up the government making us safer?

George Bush SENIOR showed us how we should have handled 9/11. He had us in and out in 6 months in what became known as the 100 hour war. He did not build any schools, hospitals or woman's rights centers and he did not try to prop up any governments, change any cultures, or fix any countries, or turn the engagement into a 10 year mission. We went in, delivered punishment and left. That is what our military can do. Maybe he made it look too simple so we didn't notice how brilliant that performance was.

The U.S. military is not a traveling magic show. They cannot improve literacy rates, stop corruption or turn medieval societies into modern democracies. When we send our troops in to solve unsolvable problems for protracted periods of time we create new problems, we make America look weak in front of our enemies, and we erode the willingness of American citizens to support military intervention in wise and essential future operations.