The Afghan government will have a tough time maintaining and operating the infrastructure for its national security forces once international forces leave, according to a report issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction yesterday.
Defense Department officials are aware of these concerns and welcome the report, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
“There are problems that do come up and obstacles,” he said. “But our commitment to the strategy remains sound. I think we’ve been very clear-eyed in our public statements about the fact that, while we’re making progress, challenges remain.”
The inspector general report echoes what defense leaders have been saying for years — that the Afghan military will need assistance with maintenance and logistics.
“The Afghan government’s challenges in assuming [operations and maintenance] responsibilities include a lack of sufficient numbers and quality of personnel, as well as undeveloped budgeting, procurement and logistics systems,” according to the report.
Recruiting educated personnel to fill technical positions is a challenge for the Afghan military, which lacks personnel with the technical skills required to operate and maintain critical facilities, such as water supply, waste water treatment and power generation, the report said.
DOD leaders understand that there will be continuing challenges in Afghanistan, Little said, even as the process moves toward the transition to full Afghan-led responsibility at the end of 2014.
“Reports such as this are helpful in identifying some of the issues we continue to confront, and we certainly take their concerns on board,” he said.
There will undoubtedly be problems developing these capabilities in the Afghan military, Little said.
“But, overall we think the process is going very well,” he said. “[Afghan military] capabilities are growing steadily. They are taking more and more leadership on missions and operations. It’s not going to be a perfect process, but it is certainly on the right trajectory.”
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