Afghanistan is so corrupt that the U.S. Defense Department has no idea how many “ghost soldiers” it is funding—that is absentee or non-existent Afghani defense and security personnel, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The report states: “Persistent reports indicating discrepancies between the assigned force strength of the ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Force] and the actual number of personnel serving raise questions regarding whether the U.S. government is taking adequate steps to prevent taxpayer funds from being spent on so-called “ghost” soldiers.”
How bad is the problem? These two statistics perfectly capture the problem:
• Though the Pentagon stated that “force strength” was 319,595 in the second quarter of 2016, an Afghan official told SIGAR that the number is closer to 120,000, which is “less than a third of what is needed to secure the country.”
• Of the approximately 26,000 ANDSF personnel assigned to the country’s violence-torn Helmand province, up to half of them “did not exist physically when we asked for help during operations,” the new police chief told SIGAR.