Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Afghan forces won't be ready for U.S. withdrawal
Afghan forces won't be ready for U.S. withdrawal, report says June 28, 2010 | 8:48 pm WASHINGTON — Afghanistan's military and police aren't on track to meet President Obama's 18-month timetable for starting to withdraw U.S. troops, according to a report by an independent watchdog group. Despite assurances last week by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the newly appointed U.S. commander in Afghanistan, that the Afghan National Security Forces are making significant progress in anticipation of Obama's July 2011 deadline, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction said the benchmarks that are being used to assess the security forces are misleading. “Serious challenges affect U.S. and coalition assessment efforts, including security conditions, mentor shortages, and inadequate training,” the report said. “Further, systemic [Afghan security force] deficiencies have undermined efforts to develop unit capabilities.” An independent, effective Afghan military and police force are key for U.S. troops to begin their departure from a nearly nine-year conflict that has cost more than 1,100 American lives, it said. The report's criticisms of Afghan military training include logistics problems, drug abuse and illiteracy. The report points to shortcomings in the Capability Milestone system that's used to assess the progress of training Afghan forces. The inspector general found that the system, implemented in 2005, has unreliable assessments, inconsistent results, outdated information and disincentives for overall improvement. “[The] ratings have not provided consistent and reliable measures of progress toward the goal of developing self-sustaining security forces for Afghanistan,” the report said. The Pentagon had no comment. According to the report, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and the Defense Department have stated their concerns about the rating system. The International Joint Committee said it plans to implement a new system, which the special inspector general's report said will be more consistent and reliable. “Without such measures, decision makers will not have a clear understanding of the extent to which progress is being made in developing Afghan security forces capable of independently conducting operations, and ultimately securing Afghanistan,” the report said.