The July 2018 SIGAR report on Afghanistan was published on July 30, 2018 by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The Quarterly Report to the United States Congress is 288 pages long and covers a variety of topics about the long-running conflict in Afghanistan. The report summarizes SIGAR’s work from April 1 to June 30, 2018. This report includes four major sections:
- Stabilizing Afghanistan: Lessons from a Long Struggle
- SIGAR Oversight Activities
- Reconstruction Update
- Other Agency Oversight
There are seven appendices as well – covering statutory requirements, U.S. funds for reconstruction, SIGAR written products, SIGAR investigations, SIGAR data call questions with classified (or restricted responses), RS defined stability data for Afghanistan’s 407 districts, and abbreviations and acronyms (there are always new ones to learn).
July 2018 SIGAR Report Topics of Interest
Stabilization. The beginning of the report summarizes Lessons Learned from 15 years of stabilization. The short section reports on past stabilization aims and operations and points out some lessons learned. SIGAR has found that insecurity and corruption weaken stabilization efforts; but that stabilization may still be worth attempting. The agency recommends action for better stabilization outcomes and provides seven key findings. Earlier this year SIGAR published a report on stabilization lessons from the U.S. experience in Afghanistan.
Anticorruption. There are worries by donor nations that the Afghan government may be going back to a ‘business as usual” mode and simply checking the block when it comes to fighting corruption. Apparently there is a lack of ‘political will’ to tackle the corruption problems.
Security update. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) is understrength (at 89% percent). The ANDSF failed to improve its control over Afghanistan’s districts, population, and territory. Since November 2015 the Afghan government control and influence over its districts has declined by about 16 percentage points. The U.S. strategy remains the same – increasing the capability and capacity of the ANDSF so as to put military pressure (along with a little U.S. air support) to force the Taliban to the negotiating table.
District Control. Three different metrics can be used to determine stability in Afghanistan’s 407 districts. Population control, territorial control, and district control. The July 2018 SIGAR report provides an explanation on how these metrics are collected.
Poppy Production. UNODC and Resolute Support data shows that poppy cultivation is prevalent in both government and insurgent controlled areas. There are several pages on counternarcotic efforts, interdiction, eradication, alternative development, and drug demand reduction.
1st SFAB. The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade arrived incountry in early 2018. The SFAB has provided over 60 advisory elements across Afghanistan working with every Train, Advise, and Assist Command (TAACs). In addition, the SFAB had selected advisors working with U.S. Special Forces advisor elements. SFAB advisor teams have been working with Afghan counterparts at the corps, brigade, and kandak level as well as at the Regional Military Training Centers (RMTC). The July 2018 SIGAR report does point out that the SFAB has made some ‘readjustments’ to the initial plan to field advisory teams to the kandak level as a major effort.
Essential Functions – Not So Much. In early 2018 Resolute Support revamped how it conducts its Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission. For several years RS has used the Essential Functions methodology and framework for conducting SFA – dividing the train, advise, and assist work among eight functional categories. RS is now using eleven functional areas which (at some of them) have been renamed. Every few years RS (and formerly ISAF) has to rearrange the deck chairs on the . . . .
Other Topics in the July 2018 SIGAR Report
- Reconciliation and Reintegration
- Nation-wide and Regional Ceasefires
- Lessons from APRP
- Governance and Ministries
- Refugees and Internal Displacement
The July 2018 SIGAR report is available at the link below:
Photo: Marines talking with Afghan elder in Helmand province. Photo by Gunnery Sergeant Bryce Piper, USMC, 2011. Photo in July 2018 SIGAR report.