Progress must be more than a military battle


(Reuters) – Afghanistan’s government does not know exactly how many people work for its national police force, creating a risk that foreign funds for police salaries are being abused, a U.S. watchdog said on Monday.

The audit of Afghan police personnel and payroll systems by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR, came as U.S. commanders prepare to hand greater control of security to Afghans and start withdrawing.

Since 2002, about $1.26 billion has been disbursed for Afghan police salaries from an international donors’ trust fund run by the U.N. Development Program, the audit said.

But without a central police payroll system, in place, it is difficult to tell "where the money is actually going," said Herbert Richardson, the acting special inspector general.

The audit by his office said U.N. oversight also was "an issue."

There’s a surprise for you.  Read the whole article to see just how well the money flows.

Afghanistan ag

U.S. military dismayed by delays in 3 key development projects in Afghanistan

U.S. aid officials have been forced to delay three large development programs intended to support the American military strategy in southern Afghanistan at a critical, make-or-break moment in the war.

The initiatives, which are supposed to support local governments, agricultural development and job-training efforts, have been held up by bureaucratic missteps and funding cuts by Congress, according to senior U.S. officials. As a result, the programs will not begin until much of the summer fighting season has concluded.

Military commanders have voiced dismay that the initiatives, to be run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, have been pushed back. “Our flank is exposed” without these programs, said one senior U.S. officer in Afghanistan.

After repeated complaints from the military, USAID is scrambling to implement interim measures. Senior agency officials insist the delays will not affect the delivery of agricultural aid or assistance for local governance.

…In 2009, the agency issued a $300 million grant to Arlington-based International Relief and Development (IRD) to help farmers in two southern provinces — Kandahar and Helmand — improve productivity over just one year. The agency initially did not want to spend so much in such a small area so quickly, but it was told to do so by Richard C. Holbrooke, who had been President Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan until his death in December.

The program’s goal was to increase employment opportunities by rehabilitating farms in both provinces. That was to be accomplished by paying for day-labor jobs to clean canals so more water could get to crops, offering subsidized seeds so farmers would be encouraged to switch from growing opium-producing poppies, distributing tractors and other equipment, and constructing a network of gravel roads so growers could take their goods to market…

That’s $300 million folks.  Please read this article. 


…In Kandahar, a program to pay thousands of men to prune 50,000 acres of orchards — in an effort to increase the amount of fruit grown on the trees — has been met with derision from the governor. “In my childhood, everyone was cleaning the canals. They were pruning their trees. Nobody was paying them,” said Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa, who holds a doctorate in agricultural economics. “IRD is killing the culture here.”…

The war in Afghanistan is more than just military maneuvering. 


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