The Pentagon announced yesterday that it will drastically cut U.S. funds for training the Afghan Army, which remains the central pillar of America’s strategy in AF – as they build up, we scale down. The LA Times reports, “The cutbacks, along with already planned reductions, would shrink annual U.S. expenditures on Afghan security forces from nearly $13 billion to well below $6 billion in 2014, the officials said. The Pentagon has spent more than $39 billion to build up the fledgling forces over the last six years.” So the “drastically” lower expenditures will be only slightly less than the average of the last six years.
Yet how do we define “good enough?”
Despite intensive training efforts, the Afghan army — and, to a greater extent, the national police force — remains beset by drug use, illiteracy and high desertion rates. The Taliban and other insurgent groups have repeatedly infiltrated both forces, and “turncoat” attacks by Afghans in uniform have killed and injured dozens of Western troops over the last two years.
All knew that the funding couldn’t continue at current levels given the worsening fiscal problems in the US and the EU and the lack of visible and significant improvements in AF. This shouldn’t be too surprising. But GEN Allen and his team will have to implement an exit strategy with a faster withdrawal timeline than they requested and with less money to train the ANA and ANP, and there is little they can do about it. Obama seems “more comfortable with a military strategy that relies heavily on drone aircraft strikes in neighboring Pakistan and nightly raids by special operations forces against Afghan militants, while trimming the American military presence and budget to politically acceptable levels.”
Supporters of the current strategy and opponents of Obama will certainly argue that this puts the entire strategy and mission in jeopardy. But it’s been in jeopardy from the beginning. TOTPS will take seriously their counter-arguments as long as they don’t declare 2011/2 as the “decisive” year. (Start at 8:43.)