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Jan 20

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, January 20, 2011 6:54 AM 

Remember that massive and massively expensive expansion of Afghan security forces reported last week?

Looks like it's on hold due to some interesting discord between "coalition officials" in A-stan and just about the rest of the world.

From the WSJ:

The White House has put a hold on a military proposal to raise the ceiling for building up Afghan security forces, with a spokesman saying there have been "no decisions" on army and police manpower growth beyond approved 2011 targets.

European allies and the Afghan government have also expressed concerns about the plan, focusing on its costs and the quality of police and army personnel. The doubts forced the abrupt postponement of a meeting Tuesday intended to formally approve the new ceiling.

Increasing Afghan forces by up to 72,400 additional troops, as envisioned by the proposal, "is an important decision, and there are a lot of factors that we have to weigh before making it," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. "For example, the need to balance quality versus quantity of troops, and the significant costs associated with an increase in force levels."

Coalition officials in Kabul said they expected disagreements to be ironed out by the end of the month, in time to secure U.S. congressional approval for the billions of dollars needed to pay for additional recruits.

There is no bottom line in COIN-Land.

The new ceiling, U.S.-led coalition officials said, would give the army and police sufficient strength to assume security responsibility across the entire country by the end of 2014—allowing the bulk of U.S.-led foreign forces to leave. 

The meeting that was postponed Tuesday, of a committee of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board that unites Afghan, United Nations and coalition member-country representatives, was set to endorse a new ceiling of 378,000 Afghan forces by October 2012, up from the current target of 305,600 slated for October 2011. There now are some 150,000 soldiers in the Afghan army, and 120,000 members of the police force, U.S. officials said.

European officials and some members of President Barack Obama's administration have questioned the need for such a large force and expressed doubts about its long-term sustainability in such a poor country....

Nothing that a few $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ can't fix.

European allies, a Western diplomat said, have largely accepted the case for raising the force ceiling, but disagreements remain on how to pay for the increase, and what will be the relative strengths of the army and the police. "The feeling was that this was all rushed too quickly, and there was not sufficient time to prepare for such important decisions," a diplomat said. Germany, France and Italy were among the countries that asked for more time.

The Afghan army is widely seen as far more professional than the police, and its growth is touted by the coalition as a success story. But army soldiers, unlike policemen, usually don't serve in their home areas. In the Taliban-dominated southern provinces, they are often unable to communicate in the local Pashtu language, and are seen as aliens by the locals.

The police forces are dreaded by many Afghans for endemic brutality and corruption.

Slogan: "The alien, the monstrous, the Afghan Security Forces."

Some allied nations have demanded additional commitments from Mr. Karzai on reforming the police in exchange for agreeing to support the force's increase.

Dollars for "commitment"? Sounds about as smart as "land for peace."

The Afghan army and the police are both plagued by high desertion rates. ...

The U.S. shoulders most of the costs of raising Afghan security forces, spending over $11 billion a year on the task—several times the size of Afghanistan's national budget....


"We're not talking about paying this for two years," a Western diplomat said. "We're talking about 20 more years."

We don't need a new strategy in Afghanistan. We need an Emancipation Proclamation.

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