Planned $1 Billion U.S. Aid Cut Would Hit Afghan Security Force Funds: Sources

A planned $1 billion cut in U.S. aid to Afghanistan would come from funds for Afghan security forces, according to three U.S. sources, a step experts said would undercut both Kabul’s ability to fight the Taliban and its leverage to negotiate a peace deal with them.

As per the Reuters report, Two U.S. congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said State Department officials told Congress the $1 billion would come from a $4.2 billion Pentagon fund that underwrites about three quarters of the Afghan security forces’ annual budget.

“The idea they would cut security forces funding goes against U.S. national security interests,” said one aide, arguing the money is needed to maintain the U.S.-backed government’s ability to fight the Taliban while preserving its bargaining power in peace talks.

Most of the fund pays for salaries, food, fuel, equipment and infrastructure to support Afghan troops and national police.

Congress appropriated at least $86.4 billion for Afghan security assistance between fiscal years 2002 and 2019, according to a March 11 Congressional Research Service report.

“That’s the only fund large enough to support a $1 billion cut,” said the third source, a former U.S. military official who also requested anonymity.

U.S. civilian aid is far lower, with the State Department requesting $532.8 million this year, mainly for general economic support as well as for counter-narcotics and law enforcement.

Pompeo announced the cut as he flew home from Kabul after failing to persuade Ghani and Abdullah to end a dispute over Afghanistan’s September 2019 presidential election.

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