Because of the need to safeguard more than $4 billion that will flow annually from being squandered or pilfered in a country plagued by corruption, NATO officials are planning a postwar force with more military managers and fewer combat trainers, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The issue relates to plans after NATO and U.S. forces end their combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of next year.
Without plans that would have U.S. and NATO troops positioned at Afghan military and police headquarters to oversee how the money is spent, the newspaper said, NATO officials fear the U.S. Congress and European parliaments might cancel their financial commitments.
The report said military commanders want the postwar effort to concentrate on training and advising Afghans, with NATO troops spread across the battlefield, while political leaders in Washington and in NATO countries prefer fewer troops only at large Afghan headquarters.
Any enduring NATO military presence in Afghanistan "is tied directly to the $4.1 billion and our ability to oversee it and account for it," a senior NATO diplomat told the Times.
Financing of Afghan security forces is important to prevent political chaos and factional bloodshed that could result after the coalition forces leave, he said.
The report said NATO proposes an enduring presence of as many as 12,000 troops, with two-thirds made up of U.S. forces. That number would be below what military commanders have recommended but senior NATO officials told the newspaper larger numbers are unnecessary given the more limited goals being set by political leaders.
Any postwar plan would come only after a security agreement is concluded between the United States and Afghanistan. Such an agreement would deal with the number, role and legal protection of U.S. troops.
Because of problems concluding a deal, Washington may opt for stationing no U.S. troops.
However, the Times said both U.S. and alliance officials remain guardedly optimistic an agreement would be concluded eventually because of Afghanistan's desire for billions of dollars in assistance.
The report said NATO plans call for its military personnel to be assigned to the headquarters of the defense and interior ministries, the six Afghan National Army corps headquarters and to the similar number of national police headquarters. They would also be well represented in army and police training institutions.
The report said Pentagon officials want at least some American commandos to remain to carry out counter-terrorism missions, unilaterally or in coordination with Afghan forces.