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IG Report: US Over-Estimating Ability Of Afghan Forces

Posted by on June 29th, 2010

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

Here we go again with the PR spin for domestic consumption that has no relation to reality on the ground:

The United States has often overestimated the ability of Afghan military and police units to fight on their own, jeopardizing the strategy to win the war and bring troops home, according to an independent report released yesterday.

The investigation is the first objective look at the rating system the military has used for the past five years to judge the effectiveness of Afghan troops. Its findings contradict upbeat assessments recently provided by senior military commanders overseeing the war.

…The United States has spent $27 billion on the effort — about half of the money it has poured into rebuilding Afghanistan. But the program has been hobbled by a shortage of trainers and available Afghans, and by spikes in violence.

“The bottom line to this is that the system . . . is flawed, it’s unreliable, and it’s inconsistent,’’ said Arnold Fields, who led the study as the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

…Two weeks before he was fired by Obama, McChrystal told reporters that the Afghan forces’ “growth is on track’’ and “we’re ahead of the plan.’’ But the report found that the system used to judge that success was deeply flawed.

In some cases, units with the same rating would have different abilities. Also, highly rated units often regressed as soon as US mentors withdrew.

In one stark example, a police district in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan was given the top rating by NATO officials in August 2008. The “CM1’’ designation meant the police were independently capable of conducting operations. But when investigators asked to visit the district in February, they were told the district was not secure and was overrun with insurgents.

One official told investigators that the police force had “withered away to the point that it barely functions.’’

Did I mention that no-one should trust a thing said by General William Caldwell, the guy currently in charge of training Afghan forces but probably better known as Dubya's hand-picked PR flack in Iraq circa 2007? Uh, yeah, I did.

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