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November 01, 2012

US Audit Finds Afghanistan Incapable of Sustaining Security

by Luis Ramirez

A U.S. government audit warns that Afghanistan will likely be incapable of sustaining its security forces beyond the 2014 pullout of international troops due to incompetence. 

The report contains the latest in a series of warnings by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction about the country's ability to run itself when U.S. and NATO troops leave in 2014.  

Released Wednesday, the report focuses on the Afghan government’s operations and maintenance capabilities, including the budgeting, purchasing, and logistics systems - which the watchdog group says are undeveloped.

The focus of the audit is the government’s administrative systems, but security analyst Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington says the deficiencies are a major threat to peace in the country after 2014.

“To be blunt, it means that people on the front lines aren’t going to be fed, paid, and or have the proper equipment to take care of the security situation and when soldiers aren’t given that, what happens is they tend to either leave post or turn their guns on the government,” Schmitt said.

The inspector general says one major problem is the high number of soldiers and contractors who are illiterate and cannot do things like read manuals and blueprints to operate power and wastewater plants.  

The report criticizes contractors who have been paid to train the Afghans to take over administrative matters by 2014, saying one company has run out of money 16 months before the pullout with only half the job complete.

In the last fiscal year, NATO spent $800 million on supporting operations and maintenance services, which included training for Afghan government officials.