Afghan Forces Struggle, Demoralized, Rife with Corruption
Afghanistan’s National Defense and Security Forces, meant to be the bulwark against advancing Taliban insurgents, are rife with corruption, demoralized and struggling to keep territory. The government says the army can hold its own, but military experts warn of a tough fight ahead for poorly trained, ill-equipped troops whose loyalties waver between their country and local warlords.
By Sept. 11 at the latest, the remaining 2,300-3,500 U.S. troops and roughly 7,000 allied NATO forces will have left Afghanistan, ending nearly 20 years of military engagement. Also leaving is the American air support that the Afghan military has relied on to stave off potentially game-changing Taliban assaults, ever since it took command of the war from the U.S. and NATO in 2014.
Time Until US Forces Withdraw From Afghanistan
Washington’s chief watchdog overseeing U.S. spending in Afghanistan, John Sopko, told a Congressional hearing in March that Afghanistan’s security forces were demoralized. He said the figure of 300,000 troops in the security forces was a guesstimate because of the many so-called ghost soldiers, where commanders list non-existent personnel to collect their paychecks.
The U.S is committed to pay $4 billion annually until 2024 to finance Afghanistan’s security forces. As of Dec. 31, 2020, Sopko said the U.S. has spent $88.3 billion to help the Afghan government provide security in Afghanistan — roughly 62% of all U.S. reconstruction funding.
Yet, according to Attiqullah Amarkhiel, the Afghan army of today is half as good as the army left by the former Soviet Union when it withdrew in 1989, ending it 10-year occupation of Afghanistan.
After the Soviet withdrawal, the Moscow-allied president, Najibullah, held on to power for three years. His eventual collapse, Amarkhiel said, came because of divisions within his own government, which led several of his generals to abandon him.
“The same is true now. The collapse, if it comes, will come from within,” he said