Friday, August 21, 2009

NATO's (Opium) Pipe Dream

NATO's new Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wants to double the size of Afghanistan's security forces to 400,000 to allow Western forces to withdraw.

Rasmussen is, in a word, delusional. Look at it this way. Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations on our planet, has a population of about 32-million. It has a total GDP of but 25-billion dollars annually (the CIA pegs it at a mere 12.5 billion). Per capita GDP is $800 (CIA) which ranks the country 217th in the world. Life expectancy is in the mid-40's.

The central government's takings aren't enough to cover a decent education system. Bureaucrats and security forces alike are so poorly paid they're forced into corruption and extortion.

Even if Kabul could draft enough Afghans to raise an army of 400,000 (and keep them from deserting) there's not a chance in hell the government could pay them much less cover the costs to field them operationally. The United States, which is about 10 times larger in population than Afghanistan and infinitely wealthier, fields a regular force of just 1.45-million all in - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. America's army totals 550,000 personnel and somehow Rasmussen figures Afghanistan should have an army of 400,000?

Rasmussen is talking through his hat. We'd do well to keep a close eye on this guy.

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