Building and training the Afghan National Army and police is a key part of the NATO counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan.
A new audit from The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), "Actions Needed to Improve the Reliability of Afghan Security Force Assessments," says the U.S. and NATO have exaggerated the capability and readiness of Afghan soldiers and police, NPR's Corey Flintoff reports.
It says the U.S. has been using a faulty mechanism to measure its progress, valuing quantity over quality. The report also reached these conclusions:
Top-rated [Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF)] units have not indicated a capability to sustain independent operations.
The ["Capability Milestone"] rating system has inadvertently created disincentives for ANSF development.
ANSF capability reports have included outdated assessment data.
According to Elizabeth Bumiller, who covers the Department of Defense for The New York Times, "the 50-page report, which details drug abuse, heavy attrition, corruption and illiteracy among the Afghan security forces, is the latest setback for the American effort in Afghanistan."
At the end of March, only 23 percent of Afghan soldiers and 12 percent of Afghan police officers received high marks in a military ranking system. It says that even the highest-rated army and police units cannot operate on their own.
Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who is in charge of the training of Afghan security forces, said the report was outdated, because the military has switched to a new system that gives a better assessment of the capabilities of Afghan troops.
UPDATE at 1:22 p.m. ET: Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, says "developing Afghan National Security Forces capable of providing security for the people of Afghanistan is critical to our success, so it does not do any good to rely on a flawed system that cannot actually show us if these forces are 'good enough.'"
I am pleased that the command in Afghanistan agrees that the ratings system is flawed and is changing the system based on the Special Inspector General's recommendation.