Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where the money goes?

As most Americans watch the broadly reported on dealing with the "fiscal cliff" and debt ceiling issues a less widely reported event occurred. The Department of Defense quietly notified Congress this month that it had "reimbursed" Pakistan nearly $700 million in an effort to "normalize" support for the Pakistani military. This payment is in addition to approximately $2 billion given to Pakistan annually for security assistance.

You may recall that there was a diplomatic breakthrough in July which reportedly caused the Pakistan government to reopen suppy lines into Afganistan after they closed these routes in November 2011 in response to a US air attack which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The US was then forced to use much longer and more expensive supply routes to support Afgan operations. In fact, since July, the Pakistani supply routes have been restricted by the Pakistanis to only about 25% of their pre November 2011 through put rates thus creating significant ongoing expense to the US despite the "diplomatic breakthrough". Rerouting supplies has cost the US an estimated $70-100 million per month because our "ally", Pakistan, has closed the routes through their country. Even when we do use the route through Pakistan we pay a toll of $250 per truck to the Pakistan government. Sustaining Afgan operations requires about 100 trucks per day.....$25,000 per day,,,,$9 million per year.

Perhaps President Obama and Speaker Boehner should look to the Afgan/Pakistan border to find about $3 billion in help to deal with the "fiscal cliff".

Thursday, December 13, 2012


This week theObama administration delivered to Congress its "Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afganistan" as required twice per year. The report covers the period 1 April through 30 September. It documents a stunning lack of progress. Only one of the Afgan army's 23 brigades is capable of operating independently wthout air or other military support from the United States or other NATO partners. Violence in Afganistan is higher than it was before the 2010 surge of American forces, the Taliban remains resiliant, and Afgan security forces' attacks on their US "partners" (green on blue attacks) remain a problem (there have been 37 in 2012 compared to 2 in 2007).

The Afgan government, the report states, suffers from "widespread corruption, limited human capacity, lack of access to rural areasdue to a lack of security, a lack of coordination between the central government and the Afgan provinces and districts, and an uneven distribution of power among the judicial, legislative, and executive branches." Afgan president Karzi recently blamed the United States for much of the corruption.

General John R. Allen, the senior US commander in Afganistan, is expected to recommend soon that US troop levels in Afganistan remain at 68,000 through the "fighting season" next fall to allow Afgan forces to strengthen before the US withdrawl currently scheduled for the end of 2014. After eleven years of US commitment, 2,146 US servicemembers lives, and almost three quarters of a trillion US taxpayer dollars, a reasonable question might be "What will be gained between now and the end of 2014, and at what cost?" Is tomorrow too late to leave?