Small Wars Journal

SIGAR Inquiry Into DOD Efforts to Address Afghanistan’s Ghost Soldiers

SIGAR Inquiry Into DOD Efforts to Address Afghanistan’s Ghost Soldiers

Yesterday, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) published a letter to DOD regarding continued reports of absentee or non-existent Afghan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF) personnel, or "ghost" soldiers.

The letter notes:

-- Persistent reports indicating discrepancies between the assigned force strength of the ANDSF 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.

-- Concerns have been raised that the U.S. government has relied on inaccurate data when determining how much it will spend on ANDSF salaries.

-- In 2015, SIGAR reported $300 million in annual, U.S.-funded salary payments to the Afghan National Police were based on only partially verified or reconciled data, and that there was no assurance that personnel and payroll data were accurate.

-- There are continuing reports of significant gaps between the assigned force strength of the ANDSF and the actual number of personnel serving.

-- U.S. Forces- Afghanistan reported that in the quarter ending June 2016 "ANDSF assigned force strength was 319,595 (not including civilians)," however, an Afghan official was reported as indicating that "the best internal estimate put the number around 120,000, less than a third of what is needed to secure the country."

-- The new police chief of Helmand province has been quoted as stating that of the approximately 26,000 ANDSF personnel assigned to the province "40 to 50 percent of the force did not exist physically when we asked for help during operations."

-- DOD outlined actions it was taking to improve the systems used for ANDSF personnel management. However, these systems will only be effective if accurate data is captured and maintained on ANDSF attendance and attrition.

-- Given the persistent reports of absentee or non-existent personnel, my office is concerned about whether adequate steps have been taken to address this issue.

Letter: https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/special%20projects/SIGAR-16-50-SP.pdf