When the U.S. military sent tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan as part of a surge in forces in 2009 and 2010, a centerpiece of the effort was growing and improving the Afghan National Security Forces to stand on their own. But as the Pentagon has withdrawn its troops, the Afghan military and police both appear to be shrinking, with thousands killed each year and large numbers deserting the force.
The top U.S. watchdog for Afghanistan highlighted the trend in a report to Congress released Tuesday. The number of troops in the Afghan army shrunk from 184,839 to 169,203 between fall 2013 and fall 2014, the smallest number since August 2011, according to John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan reported that the number of Afghan police was up 3,122 to 156,439 in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, but SIGAR questioned whether some of those police had been counted twice and said the actual number may be closer to 151,272. That would amount to a decrease of 2,045 in one quarter.