US officials continue to repeat the line that Afghan forces will soon be ready to take over security of Afghanistan from NATO by 2014, despite estimates to the contrary from Afghan members of Parliament, US military officers, and Afghan forces themselves.
Despite the official US propaganda, Afghan general Amlaqullah Patyani told Reuters “We have no clue how to operate the weapons that NATO gives us. And even if we did, will the weapons keep coming after 2014?”
Indeed, the Afghan security forces are untrained and unprepared to face the insurgency without US and NATO support on the ground, but the whether they will continue to receive the guns and butter after NATO’s departure is becoming a sticking point for Afghans in the Karzai government.
Afghan lawmaker Khalid Pashtun recently pointed to the unmitigated rise in insurgent violence the country has experienced since the surge and is pressuring the US and NATO to stay around longer. “We have too many security problems in Kandahar,” Pashtun said. “We want the international community to keep its presence in Kandahar.”
Army desertion rates are 2-3 percent and the forces are not expected to be able to know how to operate the fleet of 145 planes with 8,000 airmen that the Pentagon has estimated they will need as US forces leave.
NATO is attempting to create a 350,000 strong Afghan police and army force before 2014, the ostensible date for withdrawal. The United States has allocated a record amount to training recently, near $12 billion between October 2010 and September 2011. About the same amount is planned for the next year up to September 2012.
And post-withdrawal, costs are expected to keep up. Afghanistan’s Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said in October that a full Afghan army and police force would cost about $5 billion a year, which the US would presumably cover.
US and NATO military figures have repeatedly contradicted the Obama administration’s stated withdrawal date of 2014, and the regressive realities on the ground continue to promote an extended mission. Unless US leaders recognize the worthlessness of the fanciful goals in Afghanistan and decide to cut their losses, they will continue to double-down on the wasteful ten year failure.