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Wednesday
Oct272010

Report: Problems with Obama's Civilian Surge 

Afghan National Army 209th Corps, 10th Mountain and Regional Support Command-North troops hand out school supplies to Nawabad School in Dehdadi District. Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released two audit reports Tuesday, one on the progress of the U.S. civilian surge and the other on the overall lack of coordination for development and reconstruction projects in the eastern province of Nangahar.

The first report highlights concerns by U.S. civilians about civilian-military integration, particularly on provincial reconstruction and district support teams.

The civilian surge was announced in December 2009, along with a military surge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, to implement a civilian-military counterinsurgency strategy. Officials created 626 new positions as part of the uplift to improve Afghan governance capacity, the rule of law and economic growth, according to the report.

As of last month, 418 positions had been filled, the report noted. The total exceeded 1,000 earlier this year because of the number of civilians who deployed pre-civilian surge

COIN experts say the civilian and military efforts should work "hand in glove." However, the report highlights complaints by U.S. civilians who say "civilian-military integration is occurring because of personal tenacity rather than institutional planning."

In addition, the report highlights concerns that although the goal is to sustain increased civilian staffing levels in Afghanistan beyond July 2011, "the civilian presence in the field may not be sustainable at planned levels" because of a "decreasing pool of qualified applicants."

Also, as cited in previously-issued SIGAR reports, there's no effective mechanism for "best-practices" sharing from civilians who complete their one-year deployments, adding to the loss of institutional knowledge for U.S. agencies and future civilians who deploy.

The second report highlighted the overall lack of coordination of development and reconstruction projects in the Nangarhar Province, between the central Afghan government, the provincial Afghan government, the U.S. government, international donors and non-governmental organizations.

The U.S. government and other donors spent more than $100 million in development activities in Nangarhar Province in 2009, according to the report. However, the "lack of coordination has resulted in an environment in which donors, NGOs and provincial directorates may duplicate one another's work."

Furthermore, the report concluded, "the number of donors involved in the provision of public services results in the completion of projects that are uncoordinated and unnecessary," and many projects completed with CERP funds (Commander's Emergency Response Program) "have become dilapidated and are in disrepair."

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