The US Can't Totally Account For The $300 Million It Gives The Afghan Police Each Year

Afghan police FOB Fenty NangarharLucas Jackson/ReutersAfghan police warm themselves with hot coals in a pot as they are visited by US soldiers near Forward Operating Base Fenty in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, Dec. 19, 2014.

The US wound down combat operations in Afghanistan in late 2014. But Washington is still spending more than $US300 million per year in salaries for the Afghan National Police (ANP), “with little assurance that these funds are going to active police personnel or that the amounts paid are correct,” according to an audit report by the inspector general responsible for overseeing Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

Funds can be easily wasted or redirected in the ANP, which lacks proper bookkeeping.

Numbered identification cards are the ANP’s “primary control mechanism to help protect against fraud and abuse, but they are not being used properly,” according to the report.

Afghanistan’s national police contains more than 150,000 personnel, but nearly twice that many ID cards are in circulation. The ANP’s human-resources data system doesn’t have the ability to differentiate between active and inactive personnel, and despite the mismatch, some active employees don’t even own a card.

The inconsistencies leave the police force open to corruption reminiscent of the “ghost soldiers” discovered in Iraq last year — the 50,000 names on the Iraqi military’s payroll that drew salaries redirected to unscrupulous commanders. Likewise, the inspector general’s report cites “inflated police rosters, payments being made to more police personnel than are authorised in particular locations, and police personnel receiving inflated salaries.”

Twenty per cent of ANP personnel are also at risk of having their salaries skimmed, the report found. Payments are made in cash and are not supervised closely, making for “a process that lacks documentation and accountability.”

Now that the US has pulled out of Afghanistan, the Afghan National Police and army are now charged with preventing the country’s collapse at the hands of a renewed Taliban threat. The US still has a presence in the country, but it’s residual and noncombat.

In 2010, The New York Times reported similarly alarming statistics on the state of the ANP. One in five recruits tested positive for drugs, fewer than one in 10 could read and write, and one in four officers quit every year.

At the same time, the ANP is taking on an increasing security burden: 3,200 Afghan police officers were killed last year, accounting for the lion’s share of security casualties. This total surpasses the 2,224 American soldiers killed during the entirety of the war.

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