The United States has poured billions of dollars into Afghan security forces, yet regular rank and file Afghan troops still struggle to obtain boots that don’t crumble at the slightest bit of use.
In the past 14 years, the U.S. has poured $68 billion into Afghan security forces. Ragged uniforms and boots falling apart at the seams is apparently all there is to show for it, owing to an obscene amount of corruption plaguing all levels of the military, including acquisition, The Washington Post reports.
The problem is so horrendous that the U.S. has assumed control of the acquisition process for the Afghan army, in order to get troops basic items like proper boots and uniforms.
By the end of the fiscal year, the cost of supplying new pairs of boots is expected to reach up to $100 million. U.S. taxpayers will be responsible for 80 percent of the cost.
Even when the U.S. pays directly for the boots, it still hands the task of distribution over to Afghan officials. Sometimes troops only receive uniforms, as boots are either often not distributed or end up in a bazaar somewhere for sale. Records indicate that only 23 percent of army boots had been delivered.
Ever since U.S. forces left Afghanistan in 2012 and assigned responsibilities to the Afghan military, basic functionality has all but collapsed, due to corruption and poor management.
When Afghan officials ordered boots in 2012, they ordered them from China, which explains the low-quality of the footwear and the wrong sizes.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has regained prominence and holds control over various parts of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s ascendancy has continued unabated since the spring of 2015. Taliban forces took back control of Sangin in December, which is an important district located in Helmand Province. Just a year before, NATO delegated responsibility for security to Afghan troops.
U.S. trainers in Afghanistan are counting down the clock to withdrawal. By the beginning of 2017, the number of U.S. troops will drop from 9,800 to 5,500, officially ending the training mission.
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