Afghan Positions Being Overrun By Taliban Due To Nonexistent “Ghost Soldiers” Used To Funnel Money To Corrupt Afghan Officials
As the Taliban probes the strength of Afghan forces, they are finding it an easier task than anticipated with a sizable number of the Afghan force constituted of “ghost soldiers.” As much as half of the soldiers in frontline positions are missing. We previously discussed the same problem of “ghost soldiers” in Iraq who are paid soldiers but only exist on paper as part of the widespread corruption of that country.
Now Afghanistan’s ghost army is facing real insurgents. Senior policy and army officials who have been pocketing the money for these nonexistent soldiers have left their country. Estimates put the percentage of nonexistent soldiers at 40 percent of the Afghan army, a shocking level of corruption even for Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, a ghost army did not fare well and the Taliban has now seized some 65 percent of Helmand province — Afghanistan’s largest. The provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, could fall.
We have been discussing for years the United States tolerated and even fostered corruption in Afghanistan. I have previously written about the waste of billions of dollars by the government without any significant discipline of government officials. We have become accustomed to reports of unimaginable corruption and waste in Afghanistan from bags of money delivered to officials to constructing huge buildings immediately torn down to buying aircraft that cannot be used to buildings that seem to “melt away”. Much like our useless campaign against poppy production where we continued to spend billions because no one had the courage to end or change the program.
Now, after pocketing money for years, Afghan officials are calling forth nonexistent soldiers to defend their country — a perfect embodiment of the hopes of a country betrayed by its own leaders.
Reprinted with permission from author's website.