Paying for the Afghan Military

The entire premise of the future United States withdrawal from Afghanistan is that the Afghan security forces will take care of their country.  The idea is that once the Afghan troops are appropriately trained, the United States can then end its occupation.  Currently, there are approximately 350,000 Afghan security forces.  The only problem is that it is unclear who will pay for these forces after the United States leaves. The withdrawal is expected for 2014.

Right now, there is no plan.  During a recent Congressional hearing, James Miller, the acting undersecretary for defense, stated that over the next year the US share of costs will drop in half.  The problem is that Afghanistan already has a large budget shortfall, and without United States assistance, that short fall is only expected to grow.

Many officials believe that the Afghan forces will simply never be able to handle their own security once the United States withdrawals.  According to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, NATO will keep Afghanistan safe for the long term.  Ideally, the US and Afghanistan need other nations to contribute more for expenses.  Still, it’s hard to imagine a solid NATO commitment.  NATO is made of primarily European nations, who facing the turmoil of the Euro debt crisis.  Nations which are entering periods of budget austerity are not likely to want to help pay for the Afghan security forces.  Maybe the only solution is hoping that it becomes easier and therefore cheaper to protect Afghanistan.


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