“In some ways, it feels like I’m leaving family behind to an uncertain future.”— Marine General John Allen, commenting on his final visit to southern Afghanistan, before giving up command of U.S. and allied forces in the country, in an interview with the Washington Post.
The recent Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report is less optimistic (but more truthful) than Allen: (excerpts)
The ANSF faces a Taliban-led insurgency that the Department of Defense says “remains adaptive and determined, and retains the capability to emplace substantial numbers of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and to conduct isolated high-profile attacks” while showing “a significant regenerative capacity.”
As the USAID Office of Inspector General reports, Afghanistan “remains a high-threat environment, and security concerns often constrain the mission’s ability to implement and monitor projects throughout the country.” A SIGAR audit team similarly observed that “USAID has experienced a longstanding inability to adequately monitor program implementation due to security concerns”
A 2010 SIGAR audit (Audit 11-3) reported that poor U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversight of a contractor building Afghan National Police facilities in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces was “in part due to the volatile security condition around each [of the six] site[s].” Meanwhile, the partially USAID-funded Asia Foundation had to replace 168 of the 1,055 locations it sampled in 2011 for its 2012 survey of Afghan public opinion “due to security reasons.”
This quarter, SIGAR found:
• $4.2 billion in appropriations and future estimates for fuel assets provided to the Afghan National Army (ANA) not supported by validated fuel requirements or actual consumption data and possibly overstated
• a $17.7 million Afghan National Police provincial headquarters that may be unusable and unsustainable
• $12.8 million in DoD-purchased electrical equipment sitting unused and a contractor paid by USAID for work not done
And an expensive chicken coop:
Two recent SIGAR inspection reports (Inspections 13-4 and 13-5), for example, found that most of the buildings at five Afghan Border Police facilities costing a total of $26 million in Kunduz and Nangarhar Provinces were either unoccupied or being used for unintended purposes, including one that was being used as a chicken coop.
The Afghan troops “are further along in their capabilities than we had anticipated, and I’m very comfortable frankly with their being in the lead in 2013.”
“We are advising now, and for the foreseeable future and until the latter part of the spring we will be advising at the battalion level.”
“In many respects they are already leading operations; 80 percent of operations across the country are being led by the Afghans right now. So I am confident that in this coming fighting season, where technically they will be in the lead across the country operationally, that they are ready, and we will be in support of them,”
But then (according to the WaPo) Allen contradicts himself--
--“The building of their capabilities will take time,” Allen said, adding that he was “comfortable that our plan to do both these things is on track over time.”
--He said the Afghans had to get used to the idea that they will not have the same air support in the future as they have today. Currently the coalition can provide air support to troops on the ground anywhere in Afghanistan within 12 minutes of a request.
--“They have to get used to their own resources being the firepower necessary”
--“Now what they face is an absence of governance and a desire for law enforcement and legal stability.”
The WaPo goes on:
Before Allen departed Helmand last week, the top Afghan commander there, Sayed Malouk, gave him a valedictory speech in a room full of top U.S. and Afghan military brass. “We have full confidence that you and your other generals will give the best advice to President Obama — to support this mission after 2014,” Malouk said, looking at Allen. “Blood and fight ours, tools and support yours.”
That's "happy talk" - here's General Malouk, 215th ANA Corps Commander (Helmand) being more honest last June when he said "This (war) is something that’s been imposed by other people from beyond this country." --
Maj. Gen. Sayed Malouk emphasized that the public and the ANA have a common goal—peace. He added the ANA soldiers and Afghan civilian are exposed daily to the danger of war.“They’re tired of war,” said Malouk. “They’re frustrated, they no longer want to be in this war. This (war) is something that’s been imposed by other people from beyond this country; and the Afghan (insurgents) who have been fighting against the ANSF, they themselves have been victims of this war. They have been encouraged by those others.” Brigadier Gen. Ghulam Farooq, deputy commander, 215th Corps: “We’ve had continuous war in this country, we’re tired of war and we wish for peace.”