Monday, January 25, 2010

Af/Pak Stabilization Strategery: The Missing Number

The Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan released its Af/Pak Regional Stabilization Strategy (January 2010) last week.  Briefly -- nearly 1,000 personnel on the ground by early 2010 and some 20-30% additional staffing after that.  I’ve dug up an OIG report from last year that talks about staff expansion of protective service in Afghanistan.  If the OIG number actually means 14 FSOs to each of the new consulates in Mazar and Herat plus 67 protective service personnel in each location – that amounts to almost 5 security contract personnel for every direct hire employee.  And we’re not even talking yet about the additional protective service and life support requirements for the 1,000+ surge personnel.

The $400 million indicated below as resource requirement is probably nowhere closed to the actual amount when personal protective service and life support services are taken into account.  Since we unavoidably are going to “surge” the contractors into Afghanistan – shouldn't we have those numbers?  Just because we can’t see them, doesn’t mean we’re not paying for them. 

By the way, you must see this numbers from Sam Stein about how the Top Defense Contractors Spent $27 Million Lobbying At Time Of Afghan Surge Announcement. Ugh!

Excerpt from Af/Pak Stabilization Strategy: PDF | HTML

Hundreds of civilian experts have answered that call to service, and we are now in the midst of the most significant deployment of U.S. civilian expertise to a war zone in decades. The increase, coordinated by the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew, includes some of the top experts from 10 different U.S. government departments and agencies. Many have previous experience in Afghanistan or other conflict environments. U.S. civilian experts contribute to the mission in field, especially in the East and South where a majority of U.S. combat forces are operating and many of the additional 30,000 forces announced by President Obama will deploy. They partner with Afghans to enhance the capacity of national and sub-national government institutions, and to help rehabilitate Afghanistan’s key economic sectors. When their tours are complete, permanent civilian experts are encouraged to continue service on Afghanistan or Pakistan, in Washington or abroad, as well as to help in training their successors. Our goal is to create a cadre of civilian expertise on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Enhanced Civilian Presence: The vast majority of civilian experts deploy to Afghanistan for a minimum of one year. Under the first phase of this uplift, the civilian footprint in Afghanistan will triple from roughly 300 personnel on the ground in January 2009 to nearly 1,000 on the ground by early 2010. We anticipate further increasing our civilian staffing in 2010 by another 20 to 30 percent, concentrating experts in the field and at key ministries that deliver vital services to the Afghan people. Each U.S. civilian hires or works with an average of 10 Afghans and other implementing partner personnel. Additionally, civilians act as force multipliers for military personnel, helping build relationships with local community leaders and coordinate military civil affairs projects with civilian programs. Civilian personnel will remain deployed in significant numbers even after the security situation improves and our combat troops come home.

Expanded Presence in Ministries and Outside of Kabul: Responding to the Afghan government’s request for targeted technical assistance, we are placing more than 50 additional civilian advisors in core Afghan ministries. Outside of Kabul, we are deploying several hundred additional personnel to more than 50 locations. In addition to staffing PRTs, civilians are living and working alongside forward deployed military units in District Support Teams (DSTs). Civilians will also extend our permanent diplomatic presence outside of Kabul by staffing new consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat, which will serve as assistance platforms for the North and West and also symbolize our long-term, increasingly normal relationship with Afghanistan.

Resource Requirements

Resources available to meet requirements from FY 2010 and prior year appropriations: approximately $400 million.           

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A publicly released OIG audit of USTC/Blackwater/Xe’s performance in Afghanistan in 2009 includes this item:

"The Department has decided to open consulates in the north of Afghanistan at Mazar-e-Sharif and in the west at Herat. According to Department cable 027341 of March 29, 2009, 14 Foreign Service Officers will be deployed to these locations in 2009. USTC has submitted a proposal to add 67 personnel to each location. The RSO in Kabul has reported that the security threat in Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat is considerably lower security than in Kabul."

This IG report was prepared last year; before rockets were fired on the new consulate site in western Afghanistan.  

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