US audit says Afghan forces overrated: report

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A US government audit due out this month will cast doubt on the efforts to build up the Afghan security forces, saying their abilities have been overrated, the Financial Times newspaper reported Monday.

It will say the standards used to appraise the Afghan military and police from 2005 until recently were "woefully inadequate", the British business daily said, citing the audit.

The old rating system measured forces on factors such as equipment and training rather than anything more accurately reflecting their fighting abilities, the audit will say, according to the FT.

"It became clear to us that the assessment wasn't giving a clear picture of the actual operational readiness of Afghan National Security Forces," said Colonel Dennis Devery, deputy director of the ANSF assistance bureau.

The report, from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, looked at the surge in Afghan army units considered "fully capable" for combat. None met the standard before 2008, but 22 units were considered ready by May 2009.

"The system deliberately exaggerated the combat capacity of Afghan troops, and it disguised the true level of attrition and desertion," said Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

A new assessment system is now in place, measuring troop units on their operational effectiveness.

Afghanistan's ability to take over responsibility for securing its borders and quelling the Taliban insurgency is seen as vital to Western plans to end engagement in a war NATO and its allies have been fighting since 2001.

© 2010 AFP

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