Category Archives: Document Dump

A closer look at reports and other other primary source public documents that I come across during the course of my work.

— — —

I Read Appropriations Bills So You Don’t Have To: Pakistan FY2013

From my notes: this is a summary of the major Pakistan-related provisions I’ve found in this year’s crop of authorization and appropriations bills (most of which are still midway through the committee process). I’ll do a separate Afghanistan-related provisions roundup at a later date, and may update this post as the legislative process advances.

Not yet included in here are various independent bills proposed on Pakistan aid (such as those introduced by Rep. Rohrabacher or Sen. Rand), which have a very limited chance of passing on their own (though they might come up in the form of an amendment during full debate on some of these bills).


Senate Defense Authorization (Passed Committee on May 24) (Press Release Summary)

No full text available yet, but per the committee press release:

  • Authorizes $1.75 billion in Coalition Support Funds to reimburse cooperating nations supporting the effort in Afghanistan, but limits the availability of such funds to reimburse Pakistan until the Secretary of Defense certifies that Pakistan meets certain criteria, including not supporting or providing safe haven to insurgents attacking U.S., Afghan, and coalition forces in Afghanistan, and not imprisoning Dr. Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped locate Osama Bin Laden. The Secretary of Defense may waive these certification requirements if in the U.S. national security interest. The provision also makes clear that no Coalition Support Fund payments may be made to reimburse Pakistan for claims relating to the period when the lines of supply through Pakistan to Afghanistan remain closed.”

House Defense Authorization (H.R. 4310) (Passed full House on May 18) (Full Bill Text)

Coalition Support Fund-Specific Provisions: Reduces overall funding authorization for Coalition Support Funds for FY2013 to $1.65B (down from $1.69B in FY2012), and specifically caps Pakistan’s share of CSF money at $650M.

Further restricts the release of any CSF money to Pakistan pending a report from the Department of Defense on Pakistani restrictions on supply routes and the cost difference to the U.S. before and after routes were closed. Also requires the Secretary of Defense to certify that Pakistan is:

  • supporting “counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda, its associated movements, the Haqqani network, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organizations”;
  • cooperating against the proliferation of improvised explosive device precursors and nuclear-related material;
  • “issuing visas in a timely manner for U.S. visitors engaged in counterterrorism efforts and assistance programs in Pakistan”.

No waiver on this certification is provided. (Pg 528-531, Section 1211)

Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund-Specific Provisions: Does not alter authorization levels from FY12 levels, but updates and reaffirms a restriction against the release of any more than 10% (down from 40% in FY2012) of Pakistan Counterinsurgency Funds until the Secretaries of Defense and State submit a report previously mandated in the FY2012 Defense Authorization Act (PL 112-81, Section 1220) that outlines U.S. strategy for the use of the fund, gaps in capabilities in Pakistani forces that the fund will help address, and Pakistani cooperation against IEDs. (Pg 546, Section 1217)

 Contracting Restrictions: Modifies a previous provision in the FY2010 Defense Authorization Act (PL 111-84, Section 801) that allowed the Secretary of Defense to circumvent normal contracting competition regulations for the provision of goods or services to support logistics in support of operations in Afghanistan, by barring such contracts in Pakistan until ground supply routes are reopened. (Pg 304-306, Section 821d)

Senate Defense Appropriations

No bill released yet.

House Defense Appropriations (H.R. 5856) (Passed Committee on May 17) (Full Bill Text)

Coalition Support Fund-Specific Provisions:No Pakistan-specific funding levels are set (the money itself is derived from the overall operations and maintenance account), but prior to the release or reprogramming of any money for CSF payments to Pakistan, the Secretaries of Defense and State must certify:

  • Pakistani cooperation against “the Haqqani network, Quetta Shura Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Qaeda, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organizations”;
  • that Pakistan’s military is “not supporting terrorist activities against U.S. or coalition forces in Afghanistan”
  • that the government is “implement policies to protect judicial independence and due process of law” and that the military “are not intervening extra-judicially into political and judicial processes in Pakistan”;
  • Pakistan cooperation in halting the proliferation of improvised explosive device precursors and nuclear-related material;
  • that Pakistan is “issuing visas in a timely manner for U.S. visitors engaged in counterterrorism efforts”;
  • and that the government is “providing humanitarian organizations access to detainees, internally displaced persons, and other Pakistani civilians affected by the conflict”.

No waiver provision is offered on this certification. (Pg 151-152, Section 9015)

Senate / House Foreign Authorization

No bills released yet.

Senate Foreign Appropriations (S.3241) (Passed Committee on May 24) (Full Bill Text)

Assistance Funding: $800.35M in total Pakistan-specific assistance is appropriated in the base budget: $375M for Economic Support Funds, $100M for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, $250M for Foreign Military Financing, and $50M for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund. (Pg 203-204) An additional maximum of $100M in ESF is available for appropriation to Pakistan through the Overseas Contingency Operations account. (Pg 276) Country-specific appropriations levels are not specified for other major accounts (i.e. Health, Development Assistance, etc).

Operations and Maintenance Funding: State Department operations spending in Pakistan is capped at $29.97M. (Pg 5) USAID operations spending in Pakistan is capped at $37M. (Pg 23) The Secretary of State is granted a waiver power to circumvent these funding ceilings in the event of “extraordinary, unanticipated contingencies” provided s/he reports to the committee that doing so is “important to the national interest of the United States”. Through the Overseas Contingency Operations account, the State Department is granted an additional maximum of $154.49M in operations funding for Pakistan, and USAID $5M, any portion of which can in turn be reprogrammed to other accounts. (Pg 273, 275)

Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund-Specific Provisions: Prior to PCCF money release, certification by the Secretary of State is required that “the government of Pakistan has reopened overland cargo routes available to support US and NATO troops in Afghanistan” and that PCCF funds “can be used efficiently and effectively by the end of the fiscal year”. Unused PCCF money can be transferred to other accounts. (Pg 58-59)

Foreign Military Financing-Specific Provisions: $33M in FMF money is withheld pending a report from the Secretary of State that Dr. Shakil Afridi “has been released from prison and cleared of all charges relating to the assistance provided to the United States in locating Osama bin Laden”. (Pg 204)

Certification Requirements: Prior to the release of any money for ESF, PCCF, FMF, or INCLE accounts, the Secretary of State must certify:

  • Pakistani cooperation against “the Haqqani network, Quetta Shura Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Qaeda, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organizations”;
  • that Pakistan’s military is “not supporting terrorist activities against U.S. or coalition forces in Afghanistan”
  • that the government is “implement policies to protect judicial independence and due process of law” and that the military “are not intervening extra-judicially into political and judicial processes in Pakistan”;
  • Pakistan cooperation in halting the proliferation of improvised explosive device precursors and nuclear-related material;
  • that Pakistan is “issuing visas in a timely manner for U.S. visitors engaged in counterterrorism efforts”;
  • and that the government is “providing humanitarian organizations access to detainees, internally displaced persons, and other Pakistani civilians affected by the conflict”.

These certifications (effectively identical to those on Coalition Support Funds specified in the House Defense Appropriations bill noted above) can be waived by the Secretary of State “if it is important to the national security interests of the United States”. (Pg 200-202)

Reporting Requirements: Within 45 days of passage, State, USAID, and Treasury must submit “a detailed spend plan” for funds appropriated. (Pg 250-251) This should include “achievable and sustainable goals, benchmarks for measuring progress, and expected results”. Every six months after submission, the Secretary of State must submit a progress report.

House Foreign Appropriations (Passed Committee May 17) (Full Bill Text)

Funding Levels: Unlike the Senate version, the House bill does not set Pakistan-specific levels for any of the major funding accounts. On the major accounts noted in the Senate version, it appropriates less overall than the Senate’s base budget: $2.9B in Economic Support Funds (compared to $4.5B in Senate); $1.06B in International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Funds (compared to $1.4B in Senate); and $5.2B in Foreign Military Financing (compared to $5.8B in Senate).  No money appears to be specifically appropriated for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund.

Pakistan-specific funding would presumably be forced to shrink from the levels set by the Senate in the event that these account funding ceilings pass in the final legislation. But the House does appropriate more money through the Overseas Contingency Operation account for State and USAID: for operations spending, approximately $3B compared to $1.5B in Senate, and considerably more in the bilateral assistance fund accounts, $5.15B compared to only $600M in Senate.

Certification and Reporting Requirements: The House bill provides essentially identical certification and reporting requirements as the Senate version and the House Defense Appropriations bill, but does not include the specific PCCF and FMF conditions noted in the Senate Foreign Approps bill. (Pg 157-160)


Document Dump: The Battle for the Schools

Time to get back into the regular blogging habit with a review of a new paper from Antonio Giustozzi, one of the most consistently interesting scholars of contemporary Afghanistan — particularly in the context of state formation and insurgency. (I have not yet read his latest book on this, but his Taliban anthologies are must-reads and Empires of Mud was a provocative look at how ‘warlords’ in Afghanistan have formed proto-states in the absence of strong central governments.) If you’re just joining, more articles in the Document Dump series can be found here.

Document: The Battle for the Schools: The Taliban and State Education
Author: Antonio Giustozzi and Claudio Franco, Afghan Analysts Network
Published: December 13, 2011
Source: Published by the Afghan Analysts Network on their website here. I’ve also uploaded a copy in my Scribd library.

Key Content: Most popular international coverage of Afghanistan’s education system focuses on its limited reach and the low level of human capital development in Afghanistan, as well as the threats of insurgent violence faced by students and teachers attending state-run schools (particularly women and girls). Although I was raised by a pair of humanities-academic parents to view education as a basic right as well as a means to better myself and the world around me, public education is also a highly politically charged activity which has the potential to drastically upset existing hierarchies of power and bring the national state down to the level of the family unit in a way few other public services do.

In this work with co-author Franco and in a previous paper published by AAN in May 2010 (Nation-Building Is Not for All: The Politics of Education in Afghanistan), Giustozzi explores the complex process of introducing nationally-sponsored, generally secular educational institutions into local communities. Successive Afghan central governments have swung back and forth on the degree to which they have actively sought to utilize the school system as a means of national civic indoctrination and political mobilization, but it has always been controversial — much as the debate over federal versus state control over education continues to be polarizing here in the United States. The difference being that in Afghanistan, there’s no monopoly of force on the part of the national government to stop that rivalry from turning violent.

“Schools became the main administrative presence of the state beyond the administrative district centers,” Giustozzi writes in Nation Building is Not For All (on pg 3), and “in the early years of the state education roll out to the provinces, many villagers feared that the state was, in a way, acquiring the ownership of their children. In a sense … they were right.” While objections are often framed in cultural, ideological or religious terms, the religious elite who operate madrassahs and other private scholastic rivals to state schools also happen to have a direct financial and political stake in retaining a monopoly over local educational options (and the associated prestige and political/social networks). Equally divisive in a country as politically and ethnically fragmented as Afghanistan are state-developed textbooks’ attempts to define a national language and identity, which has been the cause of more than a few civil wars around the world. State-run schools have not surprisingly faced varying degrees of opposition from existing conservative political and religious institutions who risk displacement by the new educated class — most vociferously from Islamist political and religious leaders in the early 1980s in reaction to the highly ideological reforms of the leftist and Communist governments. Giustozzi notes that the Khalq faction of the Afghan Communist Party had its organizational roots in the state schools, and members of the academia were active participants — and often victims — of 1980s-era conflict.

The focus of The Battle for the Schools is the post-2001 Afghan education system and particularly how the Taliban have reacted to it. Giustozzi’s assessment of the Karzai government’s education system in Nation Building is Not For All found it too top-down and inflexible to account for the interests of local communities, but also too weak to actually mobilize a constituency with national rather than local political loyalties that could effectively counter the influence of existing community elites. (This could be said for much of the rest of the post-2001 Afghan state-building project as well.) As early as 2002, attacks resumed on public schools, although Giustozzi and Franco view local militia and religious leaders as more likely culprits than a reconstituted Taliban at that point in time; still, in its first major codification of its rules for Taliban fighters (published in 2006), the Taliban leadership-in-exile endorsed attacks on state education institutions that failed to follow their rules, and violence spiked. But while they frame it in religious terms, in interviews (on pages 5-7 of the paper), Taliban fighters and field commanders appear to object to state schools and see them as a target for attack primarily because they view them as outlets for the state (and international) political influence that they are seeking to challenge — not out of opposition to the idea of education per se. (Although secular women’s education does appear to be a point of general ideological objection, which can conveniently be used to de-legitimize their state/international rival as un-Islamic.)

Given that many local communities in post-2001 Afghanistan — even areas previously controlled by the Taliban — actually welcomed the opportunity offered by some form of education, the strategy of directly attacking state schools and the accompanying casualties among teachers and students did not endear the insurgency to the local population and instead provoked something of a backlash. The Taliban were also at this point reentering areas where they had not traditionally maintained a strong base of political support, and needed to present themselves as a legitimate rival government to the Karzai administration. In response, the Taliban have adapted and refocused since early 2007 on coopting (through a mix of coercion and negotiation) state-run schools, as well as establishing their own network of private religiously-oriented schools.

Taliban negotiations with the Ministry of Education at the national level over a revision of the state curriculum, which had begun at least by 2007, do not appear to have been initially successful; the U.S. is also said to have objected to any such talks. Provincial and local-level agreements appear to have been struck more widely, however, allowing schools to stay open or reopen without risk of attack in exchange for the removal of teachers that the Taliban objected to. By 2010-2011, Giustozzi and Franco report that these local deals appear to have culminated in a national-level tacit agreement with the Ministry of Education that allowed state schools to reopen despite continued Taliban military operations around the country; in March 2011, a decree issued in Mullah Omar’s name directing insurgents not to carry out attacks on schools or schoolchildren. (A new Taliban decree on its policy towards girls’ education, forecast last year by the Minister of Education, has yet to be released.) In exchange, the Ministry of Education has reportedly accepted the reintroduction during the 2012 academic year (which begins in March) of the 1990s-era school curriculum, which was established under the Taliban regime and is much more heavily weighted towards religious subjects.

Unanswered Questions: Since this paper’s publication, the Ministry of Education has rejected all of its accounts of talks, leaving it unclear exactly what may happen in terms of any compromises that may have been made over curriculum for this coming academic year. Despite increasingly clear signals that the U.S. intends to significantly reduce the level of its security and financial investments on behalf of the Karzai administration within the next two to three years, the Afghan government has yet to develop a serious indigenous political counter-mobilization effort against the insurgency and instead preferred appeals for ongoing international aid. The government’s dependence on the support of the international community for its continued survival (at least as it is currently constituted) will place it at a serious disadvantage in any peace negotiations and seems likely force additional concessions like those that may have been made to the Taliban so far on education.

Giustozzi and Franco obliquely acknowledge that these agreements effectively amount to a capitulation by local communities to Taliban priorities for how education should be structured; with rare exceptions these communities lacked the means to defend themselves against insurgent threats of violence. And the Afghan state, they write, appears to be “giving away more than it gets”; the only prospective advantage to the government in this agreement is the possibility of using cooperation over education as a confidence-building measure to kick-start more substantive peace talks with the insurgency, which the Karzai government has blown hot and cold on over the past year and a half. Taliban interest in substantive talks that would involve concessions on their part as well (in this or other areas) remains uncertain.

Most Taliban interviewees who do acknowledge a shift in previous positions on education portray it as a way of being responsive to the concerns of local communities, who want access to some form of education.  Even though the Taliban represent (comparatively) one of the most successfully organized political movements in Afghanistan’s history, Giustozzi and Franco’s paper notes that they have been forced to account for local community preferences in shaping their policy towards education. Should the Taliban one day find themselves back in a position of national power again, they may find it just as challenging to effectively impose their vision of education across Afghanistan as the Karzai government has.

Additional Context and Further Reading:

No Document Dump This Week

I’m still playing vacation catch-up, so no blogging beyond the normal news briefs is likely. I should be back at it next week, though.

Document Dump: Pakistan Provisions in the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act

There are several interesting recently-released Afghanistan reports — specifically Giustozzi and Franco’s report on the Taliban and state education, released by the Afghanistan Analysts Network yesterday, and Nixon and Hartzell’s report on potential ways to structure peace negotiations in Afghanistan, published today by the U.S. Institute of Peace. All of the entries in this Document Dump series I’ve done so far have been Afghanistan-related, however, so I thought it best if I varied it up a bit and saved those for another time.

I’m getting ahead of myself a bit here with the choice of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act, since I actually have a longer memo in the works at my day job that will more fully examine the details of both current and past legislation governing U.S. assistance to Pakistan. But that piece is stuck in limbo at the moment waiting on the omnibus appropriations bill to pass, and in the meantime I might as well give a quick review of the Pakistan-related material in this bill, which appears on its way to passage this week after the White House’s intial plans to issue a veto over detainee language (which I’m not qualified to comment on) were dropped.

Document: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (aka FY12 NDAA)
Author: The specific document under consideration here is the Conference Report, a product of meetings between House and Senate legislators to reconcile the competing versions of the bill which passed in May and early December, respectively. A full list of the committee members who drafted this compromise version runs from pages 1267-1289 of the pdf, but as chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) drove much of the process.
Published: December 12, 2011
Source: As of this writing, the full conference report and final bill have yet to be published on THOMAS, although previous versions of the House bill (H.R. 1540) and Senate bill (S.1867) can be found and the final bill text will likely be uploaded in the next day or two. I found the conference report (112-329) via the House Armed Services Committee website. I’ve also uploaded a copy in my Scribd library.

Key Content: The main Pakistan-related aid accounts controlled by the Department of Defense (over whom this bill has jurisdiction) are the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund (PCF).

  • Coalition Support Funds — The bill renews the CSF program for another year and increases its annual budget slightly to $1.69 billion; the administration had requested $1.75 billion. As a reimbursement program for Pakistani military operations carried out in support of the U.S. counterterrorism mission, CSF depends on Pakistani claims to determine how much is actually paid out. In recent years the U.S. has been a little more stringent in how it scrutinizes Pakistani claims; since the pace of Pakistani military operations along the northwest has dropped off in recent years, there’s no guarantee that all this money would necessarily be released. (Section 1213, pg 834-836) There are no conditions on CSF spending, but the bill does require a report from the Pentagon to Congress on how CSF money is being used and an assessment of its effectiveness. (Section 1231, pg 849-850)
  • Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund — The bill renews the PCF but for the first time places limits its disbursement. 60% of the funds appropriated (which would be approximately $660 million if the administration’s $1.1 billion request for PCF is met by Congressional appropriators) are frozen until the Defense Department submits a report to Congress outlining what Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capability needs actually are and how the fund will be used, among other issues. The report must also include a discussion of Pakistani cooperation in counter-IED efforts; fertilizer from Pakistan is reportedly a component in many Afghan bombs and has become a signature issue for Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA), who pushed the provision. (Section 1220, pg 842-847). The remaining 40% of PCF money (i.e., approximately $400 million) is free to be spent in the meantime, however, and beyond the submission of the report there are no further restrictions on its use. Previous versions of the bill were actually somewhat stricter on the use of the PCF, holding up 75% of PCF money until a report was submitted (House version), and requiring a certification by the administration of cooperation on the IED issue (Senate version). The conference report details these compromises on page 1549 (although it oddly does not mention dropping the previous Senate IED certification provision, which can be found in Section 1230 of S.1867, pg 575).

Unanswered Questions: The authorization bill here approves the creation (or in this case, continuation) of program accounts through which U.S. government agencies (in this case, the Department of Defense) can spend money and carry out their activities, but it doesn’t actually release the money —  that comes through the appropriations bills, which have yet to pass (for both DOD and the State Department / USAID, the other big agencies with jurisdiction over U.S. assistance to Pakistan).

Earlier versions of the House and Senate foreign appropriations bills have additional new requirements, adding new layers of administration certification of Pakistani cooperation on a range of counter-terrorism, Afghanistan, and nuclear-proliferation-related goals before any military or non-military aid is released. (The House was somewhat stricter in its language on this than the Senate.) For military appropriations, the House and Senate appear to have gone along with administration funding requests, and only imposed a new reporting requirement on how PCF would be spent. All that could theoretically still change during the negotiations over the omnibus appropriations bill, though. I’ll elaborate more on the details of these bills in my forthcoming memo for CAP, once the omnibus clears.

Even with these new restrictions in place, Congress still defers to the administration to make the certification of cooperation, and gives it considerable leeway to set its own benchmarks. As I said in the interview with Nitin earlier today, I don’t see the White House eager to provoke new crises in the relationship with Pakistan given how bad it’s gotten over the past year, but if it continues on the current track it is possible Congress could be more assertive about setting its own levels of assistance (potentially down to zero) in future funding bills.

When this money is appropriated, it’s an open question how much the U.S. will actually be able to spend (or choose to), even without requirements in this new bill. While the White House portrayed it as a voluntary suspension when it froze $800 million in combined CSF and PCF funds this summer, I suspect that decision was forced to a considerable degree by the Pakistani ejection of almost all U.S. trainers from the country in the wake of the Raymond Davis episode at the beginning of the year. We still don’t have final figures on the disbursal rate for PCF money in FY2010 or 2011, but I expect it would be a challenge to actually spend even $400 million over a year without any actual trainers in Pakistan to spend it on, so the practical effect of the new Congressional restrictions (should the administration choose to trigger them by withholding reports or certification) may be limited.

Additional Context and Further Reading:

  • Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2012 — CRS fact sheet on what’s been appropriated to Pakistan, including the administration’s requests for the current fiscal year (but not including appropriations for that year, since they’re still under debate with the omnibus, and not including what’s been actually spent.) See the CRS U.S. Aid to Pakistan report for more details on the aid relationship.
  • A Primer on Understanding Budgets Part One, Part Two — These posts take a more generalized view on budget analysis, but include some general tips on how to dissect the budget process.
  • My upcoming memo on the history of U.S. legislative conditions on aid to Pakistan, as soon as Congress gets its act together and passes the damn omnibus and can make final edits.
  • Gulliver at Ink Spots gets into the weeds on the issue of just who in the U.S. government controls the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund, which is not nearly as clear-cut as this post makes it sound.

Document Dump: Private Security Companies and the Afghan Public Protection Force

Document: Private Security Companies Give Way to the Afghan Public Protection Force
Author: Mark Checcia, NATO Civil-Military Fusion Center (CIMIC)
Published: October 1, 2011
Source: This report is hosted by CIMIC on its website, which is balky and requires that you request an account to browse through the most recent files; they do have a section on Afghanistan reports released to the public, but don’t offer an RSS feed for new releases. I found it through the Human Security Gateway Project, which frequently posts reports culled from CIMIC (although sometimes a few months after their initial publication date), among other sources. I’ve also uploaded a copy in my Scribd library.

Key Content: Never having worked for NATO command myself, I’m not certain exactly how CIMIC feeds into the process in actual practice, but my understanding is that it’s meant to act as a sort of auxiliary research / think tank arm with a particular focus on civil-military issues. This particular brief outlines some of the latest developments on private security contractors in Afghanistan, although it primarily relies on other secondary or tertiary sources and doesn’t do a lot of new reporting itself. It’s a quick read but not the most detailed take and parts are now out of date, so I’m mostly going to use it as an excuse to riff on the issue of private security in Afghanistan. The whole process of the privatization and outsourcing of security by the U.S. government in the post-Cold War era has been explored at length in books like Peter Singer’s Corporations at War or Deborah Avant’s The Market for Force, but as the chart on page 2 of the CIMIC piece shows, the surge of U.S. forces and money into Afghanistan that began in 2009 was closely matched by a surge in the number of private security personnel operating in-country.

March 2011 data indicates that the vast majority (95%) of these contractors have actually been Afghan nationals, not foreigners, which is almost the reverse model of Iraq, where most were either American or third-country nationals (this CRS report, from which a lot of the CIMIC brief is drawn, indicates that only about 6% of Iraqi security contractor personnel were Iraqi nationals as of March of 2011; see charts on page 15 and 18 of the pdf). There was an early emphasis under the McChrystal command in Afghanistan to locally-source U.S. military contracts for materiel, security and logistics; Afghanistan also has a fresh history of independent armed groups, many of whose “demobilized” commanders were happy to take advantage of the surge in U.S. spending to put their gunmen to work in the security contracting sector.

As the CIMIC piece gingerly notes, Pres. Karzai has not been thrilled by these developments and for several years now has been pushing for NATO and other international donors working in Afghanistan to stop relying on private security contractors and instead support Afghan government-controlled security forces. Any Karzai speech or interview these days is almost guaranteed to feature a couple of references to “parallel institutions”; he makes many of the same points about Provincial Reconstruction Teams. The popular conception of the Karzai government still sees him as a marginalized figure, the “mayor of Kabul,” but as I’ve attempted to highlight in the past, the actual formal authorities of the Afghan government are highly centralized and in practice he has been relatively successful at coopting or removing rivals. Plenty of “local power brokers” (the euphemism of choice) operate semi- or totally independently from the Afghan government (even if some carry official titles or affiliations) thanks to direct ties to international military or development organizations, but the Karzai administration has been able to leverage the badge of international legitimacy as the recognized state government to capture a reasonably sizable portion of the resources and use its power of appointments to coopt potential challengers through patronage.

Ultimately the Afghan government is a rentier organization seeking to capture control over international resource flows; this more than anything I think should be understood as Karzai’s overriding goal (it is one past Afghan central governments have also shared; Barnett Rubin’s Fragmentation of Afghanistan discusses at some length the historical dependency on external aid of a number of Afghan governments). The international community has never consistently prioritized the delivery of its contributions to Afghanistan through the government, though, which has seriously complicated its ability to consolidate control over the country. The Karzai government is neither politically inclusive enough to mobilize broad popular support on its own, nor does it have a sufficient monopoly over resources or force that it can suppress rival claimants to power (insurgent or otherwise). It’s a rough position to be in and for all his flaws, it’s frankly amazing Karzai has been able to balance it as long as he has.

Karzai pushed the private security company issue to the brink most recently last spring, initially vowing to bar all companies from operating in the country by the end of 2010 but backing off in the face of a concerted pushback from international donors who lack the in-house capability to secure their projects around the country and don’t trust the Afghan security services to do the job for them. (And since those donors control the purse strings, Karzai can only push the issue so far.) The compromise “bridging strategy” plan calls for a gradual phase-out of the use of contractors through 2013, to be replaced by the “Afghan Public Protection Force” (APPF), which just so happens to be a government-controlled security force. This force will be controlled by the Interior Ministry, which already controls the Afghan National Police and at least nominally is supposed to control the Afghan Local Police militia program; the APPF will supposedly provide “static security” and recruits are offered minimal training and pay. In theory, APPF members will eventually be merged into the ANP and the Afghan army.

Unanswered Questions: Despite pleas from the Afghan government for continued support, it is a fair bet that the transition process over the next two years is going to be accompanied massive shifts in the level of resources currently pouring into the country, and while the productive impact of that spending may have been limited, the political impact has the potential to be quite high. Afghanistan is a resource-poor country and will become resource-poorer as direct international financial flows decrease and the indirect contributions of a large-scale international presence are reduced.

The security sector, like the construction sector and a few others, will likely be disproportionately affected by this change (as it was disproportionately affected by the surge of spending over the past two years) and those currently working in it will have to chase what sources of revenue remain — which as of right now, appears to be the Afghan government at least as far as private security details are concerned. (The other big source to consider of course will probably be opium production; I’ve seen at least a few analysts suggest that some recent drops in poppy production in Afghanistan can be attributed to the fact that tapping into international aid flows have in fact been more lucrative in recent years.)

The big unanswered question behind the APPF plan is what’s going to happen to the approximately 18,000 Afghan contractors who are going to be put out of business when private security companies are officially banned. The APPF, at least in pilot form, is only about 8,000-strong. As the chart of Afghan-owned private security companies that have already been disbanded by the government (on page 3 of the CIMIC report) shows, many of these companies in fact have links to powerful figures within the Afghan government. We can expect some of these contractor outfits with existing official links to then don official APPF uniforms and start collecting a government paycheck with little change; noted Uruzgan strongman Matiullah Khan has already made this transition with a new provincial police chief appointment. (With a stronger base of support from which to suppress rivals, the Karzai government could try to establish an entirely new security force altogether, but given its uncertain position, cooptation of existing armed groups is probably a safer strategy.)

But for those individuals who lose out in the competition for government legitimacy and continued access to resources, the value of maintaining a foot in the government camp may diminish as contracting dries up, leading them to consider other strategies and complicating the Karzai government’s ability to keep them on board. If no efforts are made to plan for their effective demobilization and these private armed groups and their political patrons do split from the government, they will join an already combustible mix of insurgents (of varying levels of cohesion), regular Afghan security forces (which the Afghan government cannot sustain at current sizes and the international community appears increasingly unwilling to do), and irregular militias like the ALP.

As it is, the latest reports suggest that preparations for the scheduled phase-out are still lagging and that little has been done to actually train up the APPF, or plan for its long-term funding.

Update: Reader Paul Cassidy (@ketkhost) flagged an issue over e-mail that I glossed over in my first pass through the CIMIC report – the $100-250 a month salary for a member of the APPF represents would represent a substantial pay cut for many currently-serving Afghan private security contractors. I believe Afghan salary differential issues are usually discussed in terms of the professionals and translators working in the Afghan ministries or for the international coalition, many of whom have received “top-ups” to their government salaries as a form of incentive (and possibly a way of keeping them independent from the government and attentive to the concerns of the international donors, although I don’t know if that’s the intention). Part of the transition process is going to involving triaging just which of these ministries’ employees the international community will keep funding at these higher levels and which face cuts; there appears to be little plan right now for the armed professionals serving in the private security sector who are now facing an 80% pay cut and competition for a government job.

Additional Context and Further Reading:

If you have suggestions or documents you’d like to share for future installments of this feature, on any subject, please feel free to contact me.

Disclaimer: During my brief time working in an election observation mission in Afghanistan last year, I relied, like many others, on the protection of a private security company during my time in Kabul. From my perspective they were professional, relatively flexible in their willingness to accommodate travel around a dangerous country, and mostly British. I don’t think my subsequent opinions or writings on the use of private security contractors were substantially impacted by my interactions with them in Kabul, but take it for what it’s worth.

No Document Dump This Week

Sorry to introduce a weekly feature and then drop it the next week, but I’ve been battling a head cold all week and am going to focus on bringing my sinuses under control this evening instead of diving into another document. Back in action next week, hopefully.

Document Dump: Inspector General Report on CERP in Afghanistan

Thanksgiving break means it’s time to relax, eat as much pie as I can manage, and catch up on some reading. I may have another quick book review for later this week, but today at the blog I will take the opportunity to inaugurate a new feature: the Document Dump.

In the grand tradition of government document dumps I will be drawing from, I have timed the introduction of this category of posts for the busiest travel day of the year, when almost everyone in the United States is assured not to be reading it. In the future, however, in a weekly Wednesday post, I will highlight reports or primary source documents that I come across, and overview their contents in brief. I already try to note these reports’ publication in the daily news clips I produce which have taken over the blog of late, but as you’ll see below the intention with these posts is to dig a little deeper into their actual contents.

Since my professional focus is Afghanistan, Pakistan, and how the U.S. government deals with these countries, most of the reports I highlight will fall into those categories; if I come across other interesting items, however, they may receive coverage as well. In this case I’ve started with an official government document, but policy papers and think tank memos may be included too.

If you have suggestions or documents you’d like to share, on any subject, please feel free to contact me.

— — —

Document: Management Improvements Needed in Commander’s Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan
Author: U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office
Published: November 21, 2011
Source: The DOD IG offers an e-mail notification service for new publications that you can sign up for here; they’re also on Twitter. This report is hosted on the Pentagon’s website (pdf) and in my Scribd library.

Key Content: Based on audits that took place between September 2010 through July 2011, the DOD IG reviewed the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), which was set up as a means of bypassing our sclerotic aid bureaucracy on the theory that quick infusions of cash or development projects could help to stabilize post-conflict areas by offering people jobs or improvements in their well-being.

In Afghanistan, the Pentagon has allocated over $3.19 billion in CERP-funded projects from FY04-FY11, although only $1.54 billion of this has actually been disbursed as of February 2011. The allocation of CERP money swelled in particular during the years of the “surge”, peaking in 2010 at $950 million in allocations; less than $190 million of that was actually disbursed, however. (See chart on pdf page 9.)

The inspector general’s audit of this spending (based on statistical sampling reviews of data on 8,509 CERP payments on 5,126 projects totaling about $486 million that were made between October 2008 and February 2010 — which would be equivalent to a little less than a third of total CERP disbursals at that point) found:

  • Poor Management and Limited Data —Based on its statistical sampling of the 8,500-plus payments it collected data on, the inspector general’s office projects that 6,157 (72%) contained “inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent financial or project data” across the two different data systems (one of which appears to have been a manually-updated speadsheet) by which U.S. Forces-Afghanistan were supposed to track CERP activities. Projects were found to have been miscategorized, locations for projections inaccurate or inconsistent, disbursement totals were incomplete, and more. (Page 13-21 of the pdf.)
  • Failure to Move Unused Money Elsewhere — Because of the failure to track which projects had closed or failed, the inspector general’s office found 207 projects between FY07-FY09 that had been terminated, completed, were inactive, or lacked data but which nonetheless had additional funds obligated towards them. As a result, “at least $16.7 million and potentially up to $38.4 million” in funds were obligated that could have been repurposed elsewhere. (Page 22-29 of the pdf.)
  • Unauthorized Advance Payments to Contractors — U.S. military contracting officials made at least 30 advance payments totaling $3.4 million on CERP contracts, in violation of their contracting guidelines. At least two projects are identified where no work was conducted even after advance payments totaling about $30,000. (Page 30-35 of the pdf.)
  • Risk of Overpayment, Underpayment, or Skimming Due to Payment in Foreign Currency — Contracts to Afghan vendors are required to be paid in afghanis, but there is no requirement that contracts be signed in the same currency. This results in high risk of fraud, overpayment, or underpayment due to exchange rate fluctuations between the dollar and the afghani; in one instance, the difference between the exchange rate stipulated in the contract and the actual exchange rate upon payment led overpayment to the equivalent of $50,000. The report also cites an unidentified Army Captain in Kandahar accused of skimming $400,000 through currency manipulation. The inspector general’s report notes its dissatisfaction with the CENTCOM / US Forces-Afghanistan response to this issue in particular. (Page 36-41 of the pdf.)

Unanswered Questions: The report does not attempt to assess the impact of all of this spending on Afghanistan, or its sustainability by the Afghan government or other actors beyond the U.S. military. (As suggested earlier in my twopart primer on budget analysis, outcomes as opposed to outcomes are the hard part.) In terms of larger policy and program analysis, this report offers an incomplete assessment of how CERP has actually effected U.S. military campaign efforts in Afghanistan.

Additional Context and Further Reading: