Foreign Policy Program
Seeking Better Support for Afghanistan’s Security Forces
Javid Ahmad, Program Coordinator — Asia
As NAO prepares to wind down its Aghan mission in2014, the allies ace the goal o transerring all combat oper-ations across the country to Kabul while U.S. and NAOorces move into a support role. With the demanding time-table in mind, ensuring continued and sustained undingand training or the Aghan National Security Forces(ANSF) — which includes the army, police, and specialorces — is absolutely imperative. Having conronted thechallenges o under-enrollment, ethnic disproportionality,illiteracy, and corruption, the ANSF has come a long way over the years, and will lead security eforts in 75 percent o the country in the next six months. Te orce is currently comprised o more than 330,000 trained soldiers, and willsoon reach its peak size o 352,000. Yet many key chal-lenges remain, not the least o which is the ANSF’s nan-cial sustainability post-2014 and Kabul’s ability to take ullcontrol o Aghanistan’s security.At present, there is no unctional plan in place that stipu-lates the size, structure, and cost o the ANSF over the long-term. Te Aghan Deense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak recently announced that the ANSF’s strength will be cut by roughly 120,000 starting in 2015 to make it more aford-able. While natural attrition and a reduction o recruitingeforts will take care o some downsizing, the plannedcutback may also mean putting trained Aghan soldiers intoa dim job market where they could easily become vulner-able to recruitment by the aliban and criminal networks.NAO and its Aghan partners must ensure that there is aproper alternative employment plan in place or those whoare demobilized. Similarly, while Aghan Special Forceshave recently stepped up to the plate, Aghanistan’s post-transition security cannot be maintained by Special Forcesalone. Teir numbers remain small, and they still requiresupport rom international troops to be efective.Financing the ANSF will also remain a challenge. Wash-ington has ocused on an arrangement to provide the ANSFabout $4.1 billion annually until at least 2024, a commit-ment recently reinorced by the signing o the U.S.-Aghanstrategic partnership agreement. Britain and Germany havealso pledged $110 million and $190 million, respectively,per year as have other Allies — a small step towards the$1.31 billion required rom Allies. Te Aghan governmentitsel will provide $500 million and it has been orgingbilateral strategic agreements with some NAO countriesover the past months to urther augment support. Toughthe price tag may seem high, training and nancingANSF costs much less than sustaining NAO troops onthe ground. And while NAO’s support remains invalu-able, Chicago largely ignored encouraging and engagingmajor non-NAO allies such as Japan, Korea, and theGul States to shoulder some o the costs. However, theassurance portrayed through the Chicago Declarationthat NAO will retain a presence beyond 2014 through arobust training mission in Aghanistan to train and adviseANSF is a welcoming sign. Tis new non-combat missionis a good venue to engage key non-NAO partners inburden-sharing responsibilities by integrating them intotraining missions in Aghanistan that will not only helpstrengthen ANSF but also give them a modicum o controlin Aghanistan to saeguard the many hard-won years longachievements. NAO must also speciy the names andresponsibilities o all partner countries that will engage inthe non-combat mission, and explain the actual ramework or spending the $4.1 billion.As we move beyond Chicago, it will be crucial to relay theright narrative regarding NAO’s uture support o theANSF or rallying public support or Aghanistan, not leastbecause it will have implications or the uture o the alli-ance. Like Libya, Aghanistan continues to be regarded as akey test or NAO’s uture.
At present, there is no functionalplan in place that stipulates thesize, structure, and cost of theANSF over the long-term.