The departure of American entrepreneurs poses problems for the Afghan military
These questions, fundamental to the survival of the Afghan national security forces once the US military withdraws, are still being debated. That they are still being addressed even as the last American troops prepare to leave is testament to years of disconnection between the Pentagon and a succession of presidents, all of whom, at one point or another, have called for a smaller American presence in the country as military and defense ministry officials.
How to deal with contractors is just one of the many pressing issues created by the rapid withdrawal of US troops. The CIA is struggling to ensure it can gather intelligence on potential threats from Afghanistan once the US military presence ends.
The Pentagon is still considering how it will strike terrorist groups like Al Qaeda from a distance once it runs out of troops and warplanes in Afghanistan. And the administration has yet to reach agreements to position troops in neighboring countries for counterterrorism operations.
The Afghan government has always relied heavily on foreign entrepreneurs and trainers. As of last spring, there were more than 18,000 MoD contractors in Afghanistan, including 6,000 Americans, 5,000 Afghans and 7,000 from other countries, 40% of whom are responsible for logistics, maintenance or training tasks, according to John F. Sopko, the specialist inspector general for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The Afghan security forces rely on these contractors to maintain their equipment, manage supply chains, and train their military and police to operate the state-of-the-art equipment that the United States has purchased for them.
For example, Mr. Sopko soverview of the challenges Afghans faced with maintenance work at a virtual forum this year. In December, he said, the Afghan National Army was executing just under 20% of its own maintenance work orders, well below the target of 80% that had been set and 51%. that it had completed in 2018. The Afghan National Police performed only 12 percent of its own maintenance against a target of 35 percent.
Since 2010, the Defense Department has allocated more than $ 8.5 billion to develop a capable and sustainable Afghan Air Force and its Special Mission Wing, but U.S. policymakers and commanders have always known that both would need to ” continuous and costly logistical support from contractors for aircraft maintenance and servicing. training, the Inspector General’s office concluded in a report in February.