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Pouring Money Down a Black Hole: Afghanistan Ed.

chicago dyke's picture

So I was surfing around, and I came across this:

McCaffrey is calling for a $500 billion investment over the next 10 years to build the Afghan army and police force into “capable, dominant” institutions:

The Afghan economy is booming at 12% growth rate a year. $14 billion has been spent on aid since 2001. Six TV channels and a hundred free/uncensored publications are available to the people. Literacy is increasing rapidly. The ring road is now 2/3 complete. The 40,000 soldiers of the ANA are growing rapidly in numbers and capability. There are 45,000 NATO and US troops in-country. There is a functioning democracy with an elected Parliament ---and a serious, dedicated Afghan President in office.

Afghanistan can be a strategic victory in the struggle against terrorism. We are now on the right path.

in my view, the Pakistanis are NOT actively supporting the Taliban -- nor do they have a strategic purpose to de-stabilize Afghanistan…

…the Pakistanis need better US support for COIN operations in South and North Waziristan. We need to sort out a set of strategic tools to help them do better. They immediately require the $395 million they have requested for their Frontier Corps.

And I thought, "Frontier Corps?" Like, on the frontier of Waziristan? So I did some more surfing:

However, so far no senior al-Qaeda or Taleban figure has been caught in this semi-autonomous area where the Pakistani army beefed up its presence after the US intervention in neighbouring Afghanistan in October, 2001.

There are persistent reports that sympathetic Pashtun tribesmen in the area are providing fugitives with shelter and support.

In the latest government move to pin them down, the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe was fined $95,000 under a local law of collective responsibility.

The tribe's offence was to fail to stop rocket attacks against the Pakistan army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps deployed in South Waziristan.

Relations between tribal elders and the military have been strained recently over the deaths of a number of civilians in a tragic shooting incident blamed on soldiers and described by the government as a case of "mistaken fire."

And I went looking for more on these guys and found:


The request includes funding to cover the costs of combat soldiers and trainers who will
deploy to Afghanistan in anticipation of increased combat operations against the resurgent
Taliban. The revised funding proposals would address:

• Operations and Personnel – $272 million to cover the cost of deploying an additional
Brigade Combat Team;

• Intelligence and Support Activities – $99 million to increase the number of linguists in
Afghanistan, provide additional intelligence assets for operations, and support minor
construction required for the additional Brigade Combat Team being deployed; and

• Accelerating the Development of the Afghan National Security Forces – $139 million to
provide additional embedded trainers required to support the Afghan National Security


This transmittal proposes $110 million to support Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism through development of the regions bordering Afghanistan known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In addition, the amendment would support the Frontier Corps.

So if I read this right that $272m for 'regular' military and $350m for...whom? $99million for translators, if you were to buy them there, would be, like, every Central Asian language student and professor in the country. And their families, but I digress- we already know they aren't getting them from domestic language programs. Too many people like me in departments. *cought*faggots*cough*. And "intelligence assets" generally mean locals you pressure, bribe or blackmail into to working for you, ratting out on their own kind and praying to Allah they don't get found out by the tribe. But that's not even my point. Contrast and compare, Item One:

Richard Boucher, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, told journalists here March 1 that Pakistan’s local paramilitary troops in the Frontier Corps needs a transformation drive to give the extra capability and training needed to check the flow of Taliban and al-Qaida forces across the porous border region into Afghanistan.
“They need to undergo a transformation of developing modern capability,” he said.

It is not just a case of hardware, but also of training and tactics to provide security to the local population, Boucher said. “They need to adopt more mobile, information-based tactics and operations.”

The U.S. government is expected to provide about $75 million a year for the 80,000-strong Frontier Corps, which patrols the rugged northwest frontier, he said. Further studies are needed to price out what is needed to make them an active border force

And Item Two

This vulnerability arises from a power vacuum in the FR areas where security is traditionally provided by the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary, drawn from the tribes.

"Two-thirds of this force is deployed outside of the FR areas, leaving very little force to secure these areas," says Malik Naveed, the commandant of the Frontier Constabulary.

The Frontier Corps, another paramilitary force comprising tribesmen but with officers drawn from the army, is largely tied up inside the two Waziristan districts.

Military casualties

And in the Waziristans, it seems, the military are often not prepared to take on the militants.

One Taleban fighter in Miranshah in North Waziristan told the BBC that Taleban fighters crossing over into Afghanistan often take a rest at border posts manned by the army and the Frontier Corps.

I guess what I'm getting at is that it's rather hard to get exact numbers and relevant data about where all this money is actually going. It seems pretty clear to me that tribes who can just shell out $95,000 in fines for a mis-bombing aren't exactly peasants in tents living off goats. The Frontier Corps doesn't exactly sound reliable we should give them more money?

McCaffrey's number got my attention because he said $500 billion over the next ten years, for military and, something mind you, not "reconstruction." That's what we've spent in Iraq, and you can all see the results for yourself. But to spend the same in Afghanistan for "security" over the next ten years...I must have missed where the American people voted in favor of that.

And just so we're clear, here is some news from today's Afghanistan, and a demonstration of who is "in charge:"

After almost two weeks, the journalist was freed in exchange for the release of several key Taleban figures, including the very vocal former spokesman, Latifullah Hakimi, who was arrested last year in Pakistan. The brother of prominent Taleban commander Mullah Dadullah was also released, along with Ustad Yasar. There have been unsubstantiated reports that two other Taleban leaders were also freed.

The Taleban were adamant that they would not give up Sayed Agha’s body for burial until another commander, Mullah Janaan, was also released.

According to Mastrogiacomo’s story, published in Italian newspapers, Sayed Agha was beheaded several days after the kidnapping. The Taleban have confirmed that they killed him, saying he was a “spy”.

The prisoner exchange has sparked controversy from many sides. Afghans are angry that a deal was made to save a foreign journalist while the driver’s murder went almost unnoticed. Foreign journalists are nervous that the prisoner exchange may make them more vulnerable to kidnapping, especially in the volatile south.

Helmand has become increasingly unstable over the past few months, with reports of armed Taleban patrols even in the capital. The Afghan government has launched a major poppy eradication effort in Helmand, the centre of opium production. As the harvest grows nearer, tensions are rising, and there is anecdotal evidence that the Taleban are profiting from farmers’ discontent, becoming more entrenched as the season progresses.

Mastrogiacomo, Ajmal, and Sayed Agha were kidnapped in Nadali, which was the scene of the first eradication efforts.

A Taleban spokesman could not be reached for comment on March 22, but a member of the movement told IWPR that the insurgents were engaged in a major battle in Gereshk, a district to the north of Lashkar Gah. NATO troops have recently unleashed a large operation to dislodge the Taleban from the south.

How many "major operations" have we undertaken to "dislodge" the Taleban, now? We've been fighting there since 2001...what do we have to show for it?

Iraq is a mess, but let's not forget the other front on the war on the American treasury terror. These generals and future employees of major defense tech companies understand that all they have to do is call Democrats "terror-lovers" and the Dems will sign off on any budget request. All I'm asking for here is that my taxdollars don't go to the Taleban or their supporters.

Is that too much?

No votes yet


Ruth's picture
Submitted by Ruth on

..fighting our moneybags approach to the war on terra. It's all those $100 packets that are going to make them love us, haven't you accepted it yet?

This is the only thing those border guards understand. And besides, if we spend that money here in Murka, we'll just enable those nasty pore folk by giving them schools and stuff.


leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

It's so stunning to think of the fact that the Taliban has managed to regain a foothold in Afghanistan. They were truly hated in the end.

This is a direct result of Bush's decision to go into Afghanistan on the cheap, i.e., to utilize the war lords as much as we did and then to essentially leave, without any meaningful reconstruction. The situation was potentially so much more dangerous over there than in the Middle East; at that point in time, Pakistan had it's own fundamentalist Islamic bloc of citizens constituting up to half of the country, a country that has nukes of its own.

Ruth, if only it had been $100 packets. If only the Bush administration had had any knowledge of how to get money to the grassroots, or hadn't been too arrogant to consult those organizations that know how to do it - UN Agencies, NGOS...We should have been funding local efforts to clean the streets, getting fresh water to people...damn can't bare to think about it; there might have been a way to dislodge Saddam, and I'd been doing my own modest best, before the first Gulf war, to lobby various American governments to stop supporting him (I have Iraqi friends I've known for years)...even so I opposed the invasion because it was so obvious they didn't know what the hell they were doing, and that the entire enterprise, whatever the highflown rhetoric, was conceived in military terms...

Damn, if they aren't still doing it...

Ruth's picture
Submitted by Ruth on

...has turned into. A total disaster. And if it had only been $100 packets given to the people who KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING - which you describe correctly. This is the gang that can't shoot straight, and brought their guns when a heifer project would have done so much more.


Submitted by lambert on

Carpet bombing the country with dollar bills would be a lot more effective, and a lot cheaper, than what we're doing.

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.