The United States was utterly ill-prepared for reconstructing security forces in Afghanistan, a country that has been suffering from war and corruption for 30 years, a U.S. government watchdog said in a report on Thursday.
The latest report released by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said U.S. authorities failed to understand the “complexities and scale of the mission” required to stand up and mentor the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
The development of local security forces has been the key element of the U.S. Afghan policy. Since 2002, Washington has invested more than $70 billion in the effort, and it continues to commit about $4 billion a year. The program is expected to last through at least 2020, according to the report.
The watchdog said the U.S. plans for Afghan security forces were developed under politically constrained timelines and did not reflect realistic assessments of their readiness.
“Providing advanced Western weapons and management systems to a largely illiterate and uneducated force without appropriate training and institutional infrastructure created long-term dependencies, required increased U.S. fiscal support, and extended sustainability timelines,” the report noted.
In addition, the NATO training mission for ANDSF was chronically understaffed by at least 50 percent. The constant turnover of the U.S. and NATO personnel impacted the training process and made it more difficult to build relations crucial in security missions.
Moreover, the U.S. government proceeded with Afghan security forces training despite lacking qualified instructors.
More than 100,000 Afghan police were trained by U.S. Army aviators, infantry officers, and civilian contractors, the watchdog found.
“One U.S. officer watched TV shows like Cops and NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Service] to learn what he should teach. In eastern Afghanistan, we met a U.S. Army helicopter pilot assigned to teach policing,” the report said.
The watchdog stressed that “the U.S. government is not well organized to conduct large scale security-sector assistance missions in post-conflict nations or in the developing world.”
The report was released as U.S. authorities are working to implement a new strategy for Southeast Asia.
In August, U.S. officials said some 4,000 additional servicemen would be sent to Afghanistan that already hosts at least 11,000 American troops.