US May Be Paying for Nonexistent Afghan Police

Little Oversight to Ensure Payroll Goes to Real People

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) warned of the problem of “ghost workers” in the past, but their most recent letter to the Combined Security Transition Command (CTSC) suggests the problem may be bigger and worse than ever suggested before.

SIGAR warned that corruption and years of lack of oversight had made it easy for Afghan officials to pad the numbers of Afghan National Police (ANP) on the US payroll, and that many of those police may not even exist.

The theory is that the US sends the money for the payroll, and officials are able to pluck out the money for people who aren’t real, and therefore won’t miss their paychecks, keeping them for themselves.

The CTSC confirmed the problem was likely real in a memo, saying that they discovered “discrepancies” in their records that included some 54,000 “erroneous” identification numbers. SIGAR warned that not only was paying imaginary police a waste on money, but that the US is making policy decisions based on ANP personnel numbers, and if a lot of those personnel don’t exist, it could skew US planning.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of