US, NATO pledge to finance Afghanistan’s military to contain Taliban

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The U.S. and NATO have pledged to pay $4 billion a year until 2024 to finance Afghanistan’s military and security forces, which are struggling to contain an advancing Taliban.

This was contained in the reports by John Sopko, the Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, tasked with monitoring how U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent.

According to the reports, the U.S. has already spent nearly $89 billion over the past 20 years to build, equip and train Afghan forces.

“Yet America’s own government watchdog says oversight of the money has been poor, hundreds of millions of dollars have been misspent and corruption is rife in the security apparatus,” the reports read.

It added that the U.S. allocation for 2022 is $3.3 billion. “It will include $1 billion to support the Afghan Air Force and Special Mission Wing, $1 billion for fuel, ammunition and spare parts, and $700 million to pay salaries for Afghan soldiers.”

It is difficult to see how the Afghan government will be able to pay to keep its military running after 2024.

“More than 80% of the Afghan government budget is paid by the U.S. and its allies, according to SIGAR. Economic projections suggesting Kabul could carry more of the financial burden have been either wrong or vastly exaggerated,” Sopko reported.

Afghanistan’s growth rate was to be 3.4% in 2021 but instead shrunk by 2%. In the last 4 of 7 years, Afghanistan has missed its economic growth targets.

Alleging waste and corruption, the reports stated that much of the billions injected into Afghanistan in the past two decades has gone largely unmonitored, leading to runaway corruption by both Afghans and foreign contractors.

“It’s been several years since U.S. officials have been able to physically monitor U.S.-funded projects, because deteriorating security countrywide drastically restricted U.S. Embassy personnel’s movements.

“By 2016, U.S. advisers couldn’t even meet Afghan security officials at their Kabul offices without heavily armored convoys, and later they could only go by helicopter,” said Sopko’s July report.

Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul has been reduced to mostly essential personnel since mid-April. An embassy official told the AP that 1,400 Americans remain at the embassy, mostly restricted to the compound.

Roggio said the U.S. and NATO had a hard enough time monitoring aid when they were in Afghanistan; it will be virtually impossible once they leave.

“And with the Taliban rampaging across the country,” he added, “the incentive for Afghan officials to plunder the cash only increases.”

Source: AP and News Agencies

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