Despite a $6 billion U.S. effort to recruit and train police in Afghanistan, the country's national police force does not currently have a single unit that is "fully capable" of carrying out its mission, according to a new government report.
In fact, three-quarters of all Afghan police units were totally incapable of carrying out their mission, the report by the Government Accountability Office said; only three percent were judged to be capable, with help, of doing their jobs.
"Nearly seven years after the invasion of Afghanistan, I don't think anyone can take a whole lot of pride in the answer to the question, 'how are we doing,'" said Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., at a hearing on the topic Wednesday before his panel on oversight of national security and foreign affairs.
While Defense Department reports reviewed by GAO said the ranks of Afghan police had grown from 35,000 in 2005 to nearly 80,000 today, they also suggested those figures leave room for accuracy.
In a partial census of Afghan police last September, the Pentagon reported that it was "unable to verify the physical existence" of 20 percent of the uniformed police and more than 10 percent of the border police listed on the payroll.
In his prepared testimony Tuesday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Central Asia Bobby Wilkes blamed troubles in building up the Afghan police on "endemic corruption," slow equipement deliveries, and a lack of trainers and mentors.
Wilkes acknowledged that although an international agreement calls for Afghan police to be trained and ready by December 2010, the Pentagon now expects they will not be ready until the end of 2012.