Inspector General: Pentagon Must Explain Afghan ‘Ghost Soldier’ Problems

Funding for Afghan Military Being Wasted on Non-Existent Soldiers

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has sought Pentagon information on “discrepancies” in the $68 billion in funding for the Afghan military between 2002 and the present. In particular, the questions center on the “ghost soldiers” scandal.

According to persistent reports in Afghanistan, the Afghan military is employing tens of thousands of soldiers who don’t actually exist. These “ghost soldiers” are just names put on the books so that higher-ranking Afghan military personnel can embezzle their salaries. No one complains when the salaries go to the wrong person, because the right person doesn’t exist.

The exact extent of this is unclear, with tens of thousands being just a rough estimate. The Afghan military has a substantial number of recruits who go missing after collecting their first paycheck at any rate, so how many of the troops were invented outright is virtually impossible to know.

Since the money that pays for the Afghan military in great measure comes from the US, SIGAR is trying to get to the bottom of the problem, and the efforts to resolve it, or lack thereof.

While having the US taxpayers funding troops who don’t exist is a problem, those ghost soldiers are also a big problem in the Afghan occupation, as the Taliban is having great success overrunning checkpoints that are defended in part by fictional people.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of