The United States-led counternarcotics effort in Afghanistan, viewed as critical to halting the flow of funds to the Taliban and curtailing corruption, lacks a long-term strategy, clear objectives and a plan for handing over responsibility to Afghans, the State Department inspector general said in a report released Wednesday.
"The department has not clarified an end state for counternarcotics efforts, engaged in long-term planning or established performance measures," said the 63-page report, which evaluates work done by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the State Department.
The report said that military and civilian antidrug programs lacked clearly delineated roles, and that civilian contracts for counternarcotics work were poorly written and largely supervised from thousands of miles away. It also said that cooperation between the United States Embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Islamabad, Pakistan, was limited, adding, "This lack of cooperation is due, in part, to Embassy Islamabad's conclusion that there is no connection between illicit narcotics and the insurgency in Pakistan."
The success -- or failure -- of drug-control efforts is critical to President Obama's plan for Afghanistan, where he hopes an increase in troops will deliver a blow to the resurgent militants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Taliban finance their operations partly through the illicit drug trade, taking in up to $400 million a year.
The report called it "essential" that a force controlled by the Afghan government take the lead in the antidrug fight. But it added that the State Department had no clear "strategy for transitioning and exiting from counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan."
United States officials have harshly criticized corruption, much of it drug-related, in President Hamid Karzai's government.
Despite what it says is a consensus that eradication of poppy crops is essential, the report noted a midyear decision by the State Department to shift from eradication efforts to financing interdiction of drug traffickers.
The report said that while contractors, doing work as varied as crop eradication and educating farmers on poppy alternatives, are generally meeting agreed-upon goals, their contracts include vague performance measures.
While much of the report was critical, it also listed the profound handicaps facing those involved in the drug eradication efforts, "including a weak justice system, corruption and the lack of political will" in the Afghan government, as well as the overpowering economic incentives that lead impoverished farmers to grow poppies.
Among other things, the report recommended setting "a defined end state" for counternarcotics programs; establishing benchmarks for the shift to an Afghan takeover of those programs; and establishing monitoring inside the country of contractors.
The report was based on meetings with embassy personnel in Kabul and Islamabad, visits to Kabul and four Afghan provinces, and meetings with officials of the United Nations, the United States military and coalition members.
December 24, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/w...Says Afghan Drug Effort Lacks Strategy&st=cse
The report can be viewed at Status of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Counternarcotics Programs in Afghanistan