Right now, private contractors provide security to billions of dollars in Afghan aid projects. President Karsai plans to replace them with Afghan troops in March. The problem? Only 1/3 of 165 criteria to judge the training of the forces can be met. Karsai is standing firm to his committment. NATO has little choice but to bail him out once again. Together with the US state department, it expects to field up to 170 advisor/trainers with an added cost of $40 million dollars to maintain the guard training program that the Interior Ministry has defunded and strangled in incompetency.
Forty million dollars is not a lot of money in context of the billions already deployed and wasted by the US in Afghanistan to prop up its weak, venal President. But the fiasco of the guard training program, managed by the Afghan Interior Department, is one more example, along with renewed militant attacks and assassinations of high-profile Afghan politicians, of the continued deterioration of the Karsai government.
It seems evident that the security situation in Afghanistan is little improved on what it was three years ago or will be three years into the future. Nothing the US does between now and 2014, when the last of US troops are scheduled to leave, is going to make much difference. Buying off the population with special projects hasn’t worked and the Afghan military’s ability to provide leadership and stability after the US leaves is dicey.
A political settlement to end this part of the tragic Afghan history would provide just enough cover for the US to leave in 2014 and buy a year or two more before the country collapses into warlord fiefdoms once again.