To Smoothen Withdrawal, Contractors Seek Collaboration Forums In Kabul, Washington

Kabul: In order to improve coordination between contractors, three US industry groups are recommending that the Biden administration form ‘collaboration forums’ in Kabul and Washington after the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.

The forums could address topics such as the changing security environment in Afghanistan, how contractors can best support the drawdown, and whether contractors will continue supporting Afghan forces from other countries in the region. “Better communications and prudent planning that includes contractors can help protect our people while executing the drawdown and achieving defence, development, and diplomatic goals,” a letter dated May 13, highlighting the same, read.

The letter is signed by the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and the Professional Services Council (PSC). It is addressed to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power.

US contract expenditure in Afghanistan totalled USD3.6 billion in fiscal year 2020, of which USD2.8 billion was for the US Department of Defense, the letter says.

The head of US Central Command said that the US military would remove its contractors from Afghanistan as well, but was looking at how they could continue to provide aircraft maintenance assistance and other help to Afghan forces from afar.

Meanwhile, the Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has said that the Taliban continue to threaten health-care facilities and abduct health-care workers to force them to provide medical care to its fighters, provide medicines, pay special taxes, or to close down and relocate to other areas.

According to SIGAR, US on-and off-budget assistance to Afghanistan’s health sector totaled more than $1.6 billion as of April 10, 2021.

During 2020, UNAMA verified 90 attacks which impacted health-care service delivery, comprising direct attacks against health-care facilities & providers, and indiscriminate attacks causing incidental damage to health-care facilities & their personnel. This figure was a 20% increase from the previous year.

UNAMA estimates that up to three million Afghans were deprived of essential health-care services.

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