KABUL (SW) – The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has criticized the lack of proper oversight for the multi-billion dollars’ worth of U.S. funds for Afghanistan.
In a latest report, it said after 17 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and security-related U.S. appropriations totaling $83.3 billion (approximately 63 percent of the nearly $133 billion of U.S. reconstruction funding), there is not one person, agency, country, or military service that has had sole responsibility for overseeing security sector assistance (SSA). Instead, the responsibility for security sector assistance was divided among multiple U.S. and international entities.
This report highlights how the unity of command and effort was strained because no U.S. executive branch department or military service had full ownership of key components of the mission, responsibility for assessing progress toward meeting U.S. strategic objectives, or accountability for vetting and deploying experts to accomplish mission tasks.
It said within the NATO-led coalition, the United States implemented a patchwork of SSA activities and programs involving dozens of U.S. government entities and international partner nations.
In addition, the lack of institutional focus on developing a cadre of SSA professionals and the short-term nature of deployments created serious staffing challenges, it said. For most of the conflict, the United States and NATO have deployed individual advisors or pickup training teams and assigned them to frequently shifting and temporary military command structures in Afghanistan, it added.
SIGAR noted in Afghanistan, where literacy rates are low and education is limited, it was nearly impossible to recruit the necessary staff. Instead, U.S. advisors often performed critical functions themselves, such as developing policy, budgets, and human resources, and managing the design of the forces—rather than actually advising Afghans on how to do it.
To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) created the Ministry of Defense Advisors (MODA) program in 2010. MODA deployed civilian experts who received extensive predeployment training and served longer tours. However, MODA advisors never accounted for more than 15 percent of the advisory mission.
Since 2003, more than 3,000 ANDSF students have attended training in the United States, at a cost of approximately $112.6 million, but only 13 of the thousands of ANDSF students trained in the United States have risen to “positions of prominence” (loosely defined as senior ministerial officials or general officers), a key metric used to evaluate the impact of U.S.-based training.
Since 2001, there has been no command-and-control relationship between the most senior U.S. military commander in Afghanistan and the U.S. ambassador, nor is there an enduring mechanism in place to ensure effective coordination between the United States and other countries and international organizations.