Afghan National Security Forces have wasted millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-supplied ammunition, as Mirwais Harooni and James Mackenzie report for Reuters. According to one Afghan army officer’s estimate, up to 80 percent of low-paid Afghan soldiers have lined their pockets by aimlessly discharging their weapons and selling the casings to scrap metal dealers.
Additionally, another source within the Afghan army estimated that soldiers had fired off 7,000 artillery shells in the Helmand and Kunduz provinces in May 2016 alone. However, there were no reported casualties for either the Afghan army or the Taliban, indicating that the soldiers are firing randomly to collect and sell the casings.
The Department of Defense spent more than $300 million on ammunition for Afghan security forces last year, according to Harooni and Mackenzie.
While Afghan officials deny the problem is widespread, additional scandals try the credibility of such statements. Recently, senior officers in Helmand were discharged because they were reportedly demanding bribes and stealing their subordinates’ pay. Strapped for income, some soldiers even sold their weapons directly to the Taliban.
Given the waste and corruption evident within the Afghan National Security Forces, the United States should reflect on the difficulty of building another nation’s military as well as the unreliability of local partners on the ground. Ultimately, the United States should consider whether such efforts in Afghanistan are actually making Americans safer or just wasting money.