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Trump admin seeks $5b for Afghan security forces

Trump admin seeks $5b for Afghan security forces

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May 24, 2017 - 08:50

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): In his maiden annual budget, US President Donald Trump has proposed nearly $5 billion for strengthening Afghan security forces.

This is about half a million dollars more than the $4.46 billion for the Afghan forces in 2017. In 2016, it was 3.6 billion.

The Trump administration is in final stages of its Af-Pak policy which, among other things, will determine the number of US troops in Afghanistaninfo-icon, whose current strength is 8,400.

The US remained committed to Afghanistan’s future, the State Department said, adding its objective was for Kabulinfo-icon to pursue broad political, economic and security reforms to provide a foundation for peace.

Its diplomatic efforts would also focus on keeping international donors and regional stakeholders engaged in Afghanistan’s future, the State Department said.

Proposing $650 million more for Afghanistan under the Economic Support and Development Fund, the State Department said the funds would be used to further consolidate gains of the past 15 years.

The funds aim to increase the capacity of public institutions to generate domestic revenue and expand private sector opportunities and support public-private partnerships to improve energy infrastructure.

Improved water supply, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and behavior change and workforce training and strengthening the government’s capacity to deliver public services and invest in human capital are other objectives.

It will promote community service, youth leadership, enhanced media capacity and civic engagement to prevent violent extremists from radicalising, recruiting, or inspiring individuals to commit acts of violence.

The funds will be used to support the empowerment of womeninfo-icon through increased access to higher educationinfo-icon, private sector employment and entrepreneurship, civil service and government employment and civil societyinfo-icon advocacy.

The State Department has requested $99.6 million for Afghanistan under the Overseas Contingency Operations. This is a USD27.2 million decrease from the fiscal 2017 estimated level of USD126.8 million.

The request proposes streamlining operations in Kabul by dividing life-support costs among federal agency users through the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system, and reducing IT requirements, staffing support costs and inter-agency personnel, as well as applying cost savings from prior years. These reductions are partially offset by increased costs in South and Central Asia (SCA)’s ICASS share and the aviation programme.

In 2018, the SD140 million aviation programme in Afghanistan will be jointly funded by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and SCA. A fleet of 13 helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft provide secure transportation, security over-watch and medevac capability.

The SCA request includes USD26 million for aviation, an USD11.2 million increase over the fiscal 2017 estimate.

In 2016, the programme was funded largely through prior-year carryover, and this request restores funding based on SCA’s projected share of the run-rate.

As per the budget, USD712 million has been sought for Afghanistan under the Overseas Contingency Operations, which is an increase of USD28 million from 2016.

Another USD95 million has been sought to fight against drugs and narcotics. “Funding in the 2018 request will support holistic counter-narcotics programming to reinforce Afghan government legitimacy and increase pressure on the insurgency by denying revenue generated from the illicit narcotics trade.”

The funding will support Afghan interdiction efforts and strengthen the specialised units of the Counter-Narcotics Police and support the Counter-Narcotics Justice Center.

Narcotics trafficking fuels corruption throughout government ministries, security services and the financial and service sectors, costing the economy millions of dollars every year and eroding citizen confidence in government institutions.

The US assistance will support Afghan efforts to strengthen the capacity of justice sector institutions to enforce the law fairly and effectively, thereby encouraging government transparency.

“Funding will assist the training offices in the justice institutions to ensure the transfer of the justice sector training mission to the Afghan government is sustained and remains successful.

“It will also promote access to justice systems, particularly for victims of gender-based violence. In addition, funds will support Afghan efforts to maintain a safe, secure, and humane corrections system,” the department said.

An amount of $16 million in antiterrorism assistance has been requested to build Afghan civilian security capacity in counterterrorism crisis response, improve security forces’ leadership, management and coordination capabilities.

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