US begins downsizing the Afghan National Security Forces


Afghan National Army Air Force C-27 transport aircraft

The US has begun the process of downsizing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). A case in point:

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the US military’s decision to scrap all 16 planes in a fleet of C-27 transport aircraft bought for the Afghan National Army Air Force. Over the last few years, the US spent $600 million on the purchase of these aircraft for the provision of logistics support to the ANSF. However, most of the aircraft have since been grounded due to a lack of maintenance. According to Stars and Stripes:

Alenia Aermacchi North America, a unit of Italian defense conglomerate Finmeccanica SpA, failed to meet the requirements of their contract to maintain the fleet, according to an email from U.S. Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick, who was quoted in the Journal.

The entire fleet of C-27As was grounded in December 2011 and even recently only four to six planes have been able to operate at any one time, Afghan Air Force spokesman Col. Mohammad Bahadur said in an interview with Stars and Stripes.

The downsizing of the ANSF exemplified above is a consequence of two important decisions made by US and other ISAF nations.

First, at the NATO summit in Chicago in May 2012, the US and other ISAF nations decided that the ANSF budget would be reduced from the current $11 billion per year to $4.1 billion per year by the end of 2017. (The US would contribute $2.3 billion, the rest of ISAF would contribute $1.3 billion, and the Afghan government would provide $500 million per year.) Since this new funding level is not enough to support the current force of 352,000 troops, the ANSF would have to shrink to 228,500 troops. According to the summit communique:

The preliminary model for a future total ANSF size, defined by the International Community and the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, envisages a force of 228,500 with an estimated annual budget of US$4.1billion, and will be reviewed regularly against the developing security environment.

Second, the US plans to draw down its military forces in Afghanistan to a low level. So far, US forces in Afghanistan have been reduced from a high of 100,000 troops in 2011 to 68,000 troops today. Over the next two years, the US will reduce its forces further. The Los Angeles Times reports plans to reduce US forces down to somewhere between 6,000 and 9,000 troops by the end of 2014:

The Obama administration plans on keeping 6,000 to 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014, fewer than previously reported, and will confine most of them to fortified garrisons near the capital, leaving Afghan troops largely without American advisers in the field to fight a still-powerful insurgency, U.S. officials said.

A force of 9,000 or fewer US troops will be unable to provide any significant advisory, training, mentoring, or combat support programs for the ANSF.

The future of the ANSF

The process of building the ANSF began in 2003 and was accelerated starting in 2008 in conjunction with the surge of US forces in Afghanistan. Today the ANSF, including Army, Air Forces, Border Guards, and Police, is close to a previously planned goal of 352,000 troops. In addition, the Afghan Army had planned a complete force structure: armor, artillery, special operations forces, aircraft, logistics, training, intelligence, medical, etc., etc….

Given the decisions on ANSF budget and US troop levels, the current size of the ANSF is unsustainable, and a complete force structure cannot be achieved. Therefore, it is no surprise that the buildup of the ANSF has stopped and downsizing has begun. By 2017, the ANSF will be smaller, lighter (fewer heavy weapons), and less well trained; it also will have fewer combat service and support assets.

Exit question: If a force of 352,000 Afghan security personnel plus 100,000 US troops has not defeated the Taliban, what can Afghanistan expect after this force has been reduced to 228,500 Afghan security personnel and fewer than 9,000 US troops?

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  • Hibeam says:

    This means the Taliban will not have an air force in 3 years. I will alert the commander in golf.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    Obama just needs to give every Afghan a free cell phone. That will placate the region. Worked in his re-election.

  • Will Fenwick says:

    Cutting by a third the number of Afghan forces who are supposed to replace withdrawn ISAF troops after 2014 is a plan for failure. I expect several of the eastern provinces to fall to the Taliban after the 2014 withdrawal when the barbarian hordes from Warizistan see its safe to launch an offensive across the border.
    One major factor that does seem to be helping the situation in afghanistan (as well as in yemen and somalia) at the moment is the situation in mali. Since AQ controls and administers virtually all of Northern Mali it seems like alot of the international jihadists have been migrating there as opposed to going to other theaters where AQ control is transient (Afghanistan), pitted against well equipped forces (Pakistan and Afghanistan), or where the areas it controls are collapsing (Somalia, and Yemen). There are no significant threats to AQ in Mali, and as such its a safe zone attracting foreign jihadis like a magnet.

  • K Harter says:

    Will, thanks for a bit of insight.
    ArenFufkin, move out of your parents basement, and get a life.
    Hibeam, pretty dim.

  • Mike Smith says:

    The ANSF was never anywhere even remotely close to 352,000 personnel. It is all a big Pentagon lie. The ANA never had more than about 100,000 men present for duty, not 192,000. Simply doing the math with NATO’s own figures for attrition, number of recruits each month, and the percentage of recruits who drop out of training shows that if they actually had 192,000 men, they would be losing 4,000 more men a month than they are gaining. Acession and attrition equalize at 100,000, something the US Army has known for years.
    The people doing the counting and reporting of ANA soldiers present are the Afghan officers, whose sinecure for more than a century has been over-reporting the number of men present for duty, known as “ghost soldiers,” then taking their rations and selling them in the local markets. Only Afghan officers are doing the counting, in the most corrupt country on earth.

  • Benam says:

    Get out of there and let Russians to come back at lease they did something for Afghanistan.

  • BobbyD says:

    Benam, you are right that the Russians did something for Afghanistan. They left thousands of landmines littered throughout the country so that innocent people can find them at their own time. Let’s not forget the people who they slaughtered while they were there. Yep, they did plenty for Afghanistan.

  • gb says:

    Astan/PAK are truly the lands time forgot. The Russians learned this lesson (although it took 10 years), and now Nato/US is learning the same hard lesson. @blert made a great point in an earlier thread where he stated that many Afghans still think they are fighting the Russian invaders, this culture is a lost cause, when viewed from 21st century standards. I think the best we can hope for is to contain this savagery, and confine it to the region.

  • R Mayfield says:

    Najibullah’s regime held for three years (1989-1992) with a stated figure of 55,000 soldiers. It was unlikely he ever maintained close to that figure. This is even more profound when you consider the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that were provided to the mujahideen by the United States and Saudi Arabia during this time.
    If the Afghan government was able to hold on like that from ’89-’92, I’d say the current regime has a considerably rosier picture, even if they only have 100,000 soldiers available.

  • Moa says:

    @gb: “Astan/PAK are truly the lands time forgot.”.
    This is not true. It is nothing to do with “time forgetting them”. The simple facts is that Islam is holding them back. It calls for jihad against unbelievers, and this includes other Muslims who are not of the same sect, or not ‘Islamic enough’. That is why Islamic societies are so unstable and oppressive, and it is this that holds them back. Please go and actually read the Qur’an and hadiths and you’ll see the truth – what Islam commands its followers to do to each other and to unbelievers.
    ” I think the best we can hope for is to contain this savagery, and confine it to the region.”
    This is simply not possible. The “War on Terror” cannot be won by being on the defensive. It cannot be won solely on the battlefield either (although battlefield engagement is necessary). It can only be won by adopting a suitable ideology to counter the violent *ideology* of Islam. Note: Islam is not a religion in the sense that Judaism or Christianity is; Islam is a totalitarian [covers all aspects of life], theocratic [clerics have veto over the government], political ideology [it goes far beyond spiritual matters or personal faith].
    The most likely successful ideology to counter Islam is an explicit exclusion of Sharia within both national and international law. The United Nations is slowly imposing Sharia principles in its proposed resolutions (eg. Resolution “Combating defamation of religions”). The “Long War” will be lost if this continues to happen and the resolutions are passed by the OIC voting bloc – regardless of what happens on the battlefield. This is a situation similar to the (Third) Vietnam War where the US can win every victory on the battlefield yet lose the ideological war where it matters, at home.
    The ideological opponent at the United Nations is the 57 member (56 countries + Palestinian Authority) voting bloc called the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC are championing resolutions that would restrict Free Speech and criticism of Islam (you can’t defeat an ideology you can’t criticize, yes?). At the moment the OIC is winning (progressing its agenda of slipping in Sharia worldwide) and the West (US/Europe etc) are losing (failing to protect the freedoms of their own citizens).
    The number of aircraft that the Afghan Armed Forces has is not significant in winning the war against jihadis. The US Defence Department is right to spend its money elsewhere.

  • gb says:

    @moa, although you make very valid points concerning the constraints radical Islam imposes on its followers, there is wide room for interpretation within the religion. As with most religions, there are moderates and radicals representing many of today’s major religions. My point was with the lack of sophistication within this region of the world and the unwillingness of the governments and local leaders to be open to the cultural/technological advancements that the world has to offer. I think India is actually a good model for this region where technology and religious freedoms can coexist.

  • AEG says:

    Arne, If I wanted to read trollish remarks, I would spend more time reading CNN’s comments pages. Please address the issue at hand in a productive manner.

  • Tunde says:

    Maybe the coalition strategy is to leave the field in which no actor can gain a substantive advantage ? In the sense that turmoil in the AfPak region will keep various regional state and non-state actors preoccupied, thereby reducing the chances of an enabling environment for extra-theatre planning and execution of terrorist plots such as what happened in 1999-2000, prior to 9-11.
    Just a thought.

  • gb says:

    @Moa, not to beat this topic to death but the article I’ve cited below has references that actually support my contention, that the Afghan/PAK region was and most likely always will be a cultural wasteland, best left alone, but always monitored.

  • bill langill says:

    Yea less is more for this land locked piece of dirt where men are ignorant and women are slaves.

  • Mr Duc says:

    Maybe the coalition strategy is to leave the field in which no actor can gain a substantive advantage ?
    Read more:

  • duc says:

    ” I think the best we can hope for is to contain this savagery, and confine it to the region.”


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