The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John F. Sopko, at an event in Duke University in the United States made shocking remarks on ‘corruption’ among Afghan forces as he said the combination of corruption and poor leadership in the security forces in Afghanistan is the root cause for their ‘ineffectiveness’.
“Without question, the top two challenges in Afghanistan are corruption and the lack of capacity of the Afghan security forces. And in many cases, the two go hand in hand,” he said.
"Commanders in the Afghan military steal the food that you pay for and force their soldiers to buy it back. We hear story after story of commanders who steal the fuel, sell it to the Taliban, who take the weapons we-you-pay for and sell it to the Taliban," Sopko said. "The irony of it is, the terrorists are at the end of our supply chain."
He mentioned about ‘ghost soldiers’ among Afghan security forces and said their salaries are taken by higher ranking commanders.
“Ghost soldiers exist because names are either added - or never removed - from the Afghan payroll, and their salaries are pocketed by higher ranking commanders. When their commanders act in this way, how can we be surprised when 75 percent of all personnel losses to the Afghan security forces are due to soldiers simply walking away?” Sopko said.
“The current Resolute Support commander, General John Nicholson, is actively trying to tackle this problem, but the number of ghost personnel may go into the tens of thousands,” he added.
In his speech, he focused on corruption in security agencies and mentioned about the $117 billion USD spent by the United States in Afghanistan over the past 15 years.
“To date, over $117 billion dollars have been appropriated for the Afghanistan reconstruction effort by the United States alone. That amount, adjusted for inflation, is more than the United States spent on the entire Marshall Plan after World War II, and does not include the actual costs of war fighting. Of that $117 billion, over $8 billion still remains to be spent, and the U.S. has committed to providing an additional $5-6 billion a year through 2020,” Sopko stated.
The SIGAR head meanwhile pointed out to U.S. counternarcotics mission as a failure of the United States’ reconstruction effort in Afghanistan.
“Perhaps one of the most glaring failures of the entire reconstruction effort has been the counternarcotics effort. The United States has spent over $8.5 billion to combat opium production in Afghanistan. Yet 15 years later, opium production and cultivation are at near all-time highs, and eradication efforts have essentially collapsed, despite the fact that General Nicholson estimates that 60 percent of the Taliban's funding comes from the opium trade,” he said.
This comes after security forces are fighting insurgents in various parts of the country – including Baghlan in the north and Helmand in the south.
On Thursday, the Afghan security forces were reportedly evacuated from Sangin district in Helmand and later reports stated that the Taliban took control of the ‘strategic’ district – which shares border Kandahar province.