Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

But keep in mind that Fuller was right, and Afghan security forces really are bad

Ok, we had some fun yesterday with the defenestration of General Fuller, but this note arrives this morning and it is sobering: Fuller told the truth on this one and was mangled as a result. It’s no secret that the Afghans want to drain every last dime out of the US and the ISAF nations. ...

TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

Ok, we had some fun yesterday with the defenestration of General Fuller, but this note arrives this morning and it is sobering:

Fuller told the truth on this one and was mangled as a result. It's no secret that the Afghans want to drain every last dime out of the US and the ISAF nations.

The major problem with the Afghan National Security Forces -- other than the rampant corruption, attrition and neptotism -- is the utter lack of institutional control in almost all of their organizations. This is an inward-looking problem, however. The major outward-looking problem associated with the ANSF is that we have built multiple organizations that have no chance at long-term success because they cost too much to sustain. Once the money dries up, the ANSF is toast and everyone who worked in Kabul or with the Afghans at the Corps level or above knows this.

Ok, we had some fun yesterday with the defenestration of General Fuller, but this note arrives this morning and it is sobering:

Fuller told the truth on this one and was mangled as a result. It’s no secret that the Afghans want to drain every last dime out of the US and the ISAF nations.

The major problem with the Afghan National Security Forces — other than the rampant corruption, attrition and neptotism — is the utter lack of institutional control in almost all of their organizations. This is an inward-looking problem, however. The major outward-looking problem associated with the ANSF is that we have built multiple organizations that have no chance at long-term success because they cost too much to sustain. Once the money dries up, the ANSF is toast and everyone who worked in Kabul or with the Afghans at the Corps level or above knows this.

Fuller was relieved not because he told the truth – the Generals are not idiots who don’t understand what the situation with the ANSF is and will be. He was fired because he took his frustrations out in public and embarrassed the Afghan Government, the US government and military and the ISAF leadership.

Congress knows everything that is going on with the ANSF. A DoD special Inspector General makes quarterly visits to Kabul and releases quarterly reports that are available on-line. If they wanted to end this kabuki dance, they could slash funding and tell the Afghans to deal with the consequences. Instead, we continue to pump money into the system. There are systemic problems with the ANSF that have no solutions – unless you really want to station 50,000 US Troops there for the next 30 years.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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