US Building an Army Afghanistan ‘Will Never Be Able to Afford’

Annual Cost of Afghan Army Buildup Over Four Times the Government's Revenue

A seven-year long effort to build a functional military in Afghanistan has been an abject failure up to this point, and as the Obama Administration’s “new” plan for the nation involves massive increases in expenditures, it’s becoming increasingly clear that paying for the Afghan military is going to be a long-term responsibility of the invading forces.

We are building an army they will never be able to afford,” as one official put it. Under the current plan, the cost will be roughly $4 billion a year. Even at that rate it’s going to take years for the US to construct anything resembling a functional military in the nation.

Right now the budget has a goal of 134,000 troops and 82,000 police by the end of 2011, though new commander Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is planning to boost those figures even higher, putting the bottom line costs even more out of control.

But the real issue is that, even assuming the US eventually manages to create that military, the Afghan government only collects $890 million in taxes per year. With no hope that the Afghan government is ever going to be able to afford that military, it seems like it will be America’s responsibility for the foreseeable future.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of