Afghanistan won't be ready to maintain the infrastructure for its security forces following the kind of drawdown that both candidates for president prescribe, a new report finds.
A low hiring rate, few technical skills, an inefficient procurement process and a lack of preparedness are among the reasons the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction believes that country won't be able to operate and maintain its own security forces' facilities after the U.S. and coalition troops begin withdrawing in 2014.
The report follows up on the $800 million the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave to a Exelis, a Virginia-based contractor, in 2010 to ensure Afghan security forces in both the northern and southern parts of the country would be able to maintain their facilities.
In a memo included in the report, the corps officials state Exelis was not performing sufficient quality control on the services it was contracted to supply.
The full report is available here.
The Afghan government has hired far less than 40 percent of its positions for operations and management, or O&M, of security facilities, according to the report. Apparently a discrepancy in salary between these positions and those in the private sector are to blame for the lack of interest.
There are also very few people who have the technical skills necessary to maintain these facilities, such as managing drinking water, wastewater and power generation.
The government's Ministry of Defense has been dragging its feet on providing its army with supplies, the report states, and the Ministry of the Interior did not allocate O&M money for police facilities until March of this year.
Exelis was hiring a project operations manager in support of this project in Afghanistan as of Oct. 16 to oversee 258 separate contract locations in the northern region of Afghanistan, as well as 2,400 employees and subcontractors. Learn more here.
The stability of Afghanistan's security forces is a central tenet of American hopes to withdraw its troops within two years. The current condition of those forces leaves some worried for the future.
"There are police who don't even know the meaning of the word 'police,'" said the National Police Academy's director Mullah Dad Pazoish in a recent interview with the Associated Press. "We have generals who have no training. They are the jihadi commanders."
Many worry the police force, which is largely illiterate, will fall apart if Western forces leave.
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Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.