Afghanistan Weekly Reader: Afghan Security Forces Cost Americans $12 Billion in 2011

The deaths of eight U.S. troops at the hands of an Afghan Air Force officer last April highlights the many questions surrounding the Afghan national security forces. The incident was just one of many. Since 2005 more than 50 NATO troops have been killed by their Afghan counterparts, calling into question the capability of the force that the U.S. has spent years and billions of dollars to train and equip. The sustainability of the force is also doubtful – the US and allies are planning on cutting their contributions, leaving Afghanistan, a country a with domestic revenue of less than $2 billion, with security forces that cost $10 billion per year.
Capability, cost, sustainability. With so many questions about the future of Afgan security, there’s really only one question left: why haven’t we moved on to a smarter strategy?

From ASG
$83 Billion In Projected War Costs For 2013
Afghanistan Study Group by Mary Kaszynski

$83 billion may not seem like a lot compared to last year, but it is still too much. The war is supposed to be wrapping up and the troops coming home. The Defense Department is making some tough choices about where to cut back. Why aren’t they cutting back war costs?

Afghan opium profits up 133% in 2011, U.N. says
Associated Press
Revenue from opium production in Afghanistan soared by 133 percent last year to about $1.4 billion, or about one-tenth of the country’s GDP, according to a United Nations report.

NATO trains Afghan air force to fly aircraft _ and fix them so history doesn’t repeat itself
Associated Press
When the [Afghan air] corps was reformed in 2005, it had to start from scratch. Thousands of different specialists — including crew chiefs, engine and airframe technicians, avionics and communications experts, loadmasters and air base firefighters — had to be recruited and trained. The force currently has about 5,000 members and 86 aircraft.

How to Talk to the Taliban
Foreign Affairs by Michael Semple

Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid’s announcement last week that the group will open a political office in Qatar is part of a process that could bring a peaceful end to the war in Afghanistan. To be sure, naysayers abound both in the region and in Washington. But, conditions in 2012, unlike those in years past, offer a realistic, if difficult, opening for a way forward.

Was $73B of Afghan aid wasted?
Politico by James Petersen
Our leaders ought to have good reasons for giving this aid. Maybe they do. Taxpayers, however, whether they support our efforts or not, still deserve answers…The money isn’t going where we think it is — and $73 billion is a ton of treasure to waste.

The U.S. has to make up its mind now on Afghanistan
Washington Post by Anthony Cordesman
Now is the time to debate these issues and the future level of the U.S. commitment in money and forces. We do not need more good intentions and vague promises from the Obama administration. We do not need a vacuous set of positions from Republican presidential candidates who either do not understand the issues or fear addressing their cost. If the United States is to make this commitment we need to start making it now in every part of our posture and spending in Afghanistan — and be clear that we will do so through 2025.

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