Afghan soldiers training in Khost province, Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Defense Department
A special inspector general report issued late Monday says the rating system of Afghan security forces is not reliable and training efforts face “serious challenges.”
Preparing Afghan forces to take over security in the country is one of the pillars of the U.S.-led effort, and the July 2011 target for the start of withdrawing U.S. troops hinges on security conditions on the ground.
The report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction is the first since the 2005 creation of the “Capability Milestone” rating system for measuring the progress of the Afghan National Security Forces. The report says the rating system is not reliable because it uses measurements that overstate operational capabilities and looks at outdated information.
In addition, the 50-page report says challenges to training among the Afghan forces themselves include corruption, drug abuse and illiteracy.
“I think the worst nightmare for the Taliban is an Afghan army in charge,” said Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the Armed Services Committee, quoted the Associated Press.
Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who heads the training of Afghan security forces, said the report was based on six-month-old data and that it did not “recognize the progress the Afghan national security leadership have made in reversing the adverse trends in the growth and professionalization” of the army and police, The New York Times reported.
The audit came out the same day as Gen. David Petraeus’ Senate confirmation hearing to lead U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus acknowledged the challenges highlighted in the report and said it will be years before Afghan forces can take over.
“It is going to be a number of years before Afghan forces can truly handle the security tasks in Afghanistan on their own,” he said. “The commitment to Afghanistan is necessarily, therefore, an enduring one and neither the Taliban nor our Afghan and Pakistani partners should doubt that.”