The following blog is contributed by A FRIEND of AAN in Kabul who – for a good reason which in the media is usually described as that she/he is not authorized to speak about the subject – does not want to see her/his name printed here.
After following the recent discussions about number increases in the various Afghan national security forces (ANSF) and the individual arguments for these increases as well as on its fiscal sustainability (which individually are all valid and solid), I have done some quick calculations on the total of the proposed forces in comparison to the Afghan population.
I have factored in the numbers of the proposed (and desired, by the Afghan side) growth for the following organizations or forces: Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police (ANP), National Directorate for Security (NDS), the Afghan Public Protections Forces (APPF or AP3), the relatively new Community Defense Initiative (CDI), presidential and parliamentary security details, Private Security Companies (PSC) – the figure given includes both already registered and rough estimates on the various still unregistered PSCs), the so-called Armed Support Groups (ASG) – which are existing militias used/trained/paid for by international military forces for a broad range of duties ranging from the protection of PRTs to anti-terrorism operations.
Desired end state figures:
ANA: 240,000 (325,000 according to the US Senat)
ANP: 160,000 (170,000 according to Afghan Minister of the Interior Hanif Atmar)
NDS: 20,000 (possibly up to 40,000 – these figures are obviously difficult to obtain)
Sub-total, these are 490,000 to 625,000 fighters.
The following are current figures:
PSC (registered and estimation of unregistered): 120,000
Protection details: 5,000
ASGs (estimation): 30,000 to 50,000
Subtotal, these are 155,000 to 175,000 fighters.
Total: 645,000 to 800,000 fighters
(In the following, I use 650,000 instead of 645,000 as the minimum figure, in order to alleviate the calculation.)
Combining the desired end figure for all of those forces, I have reached 650,000 to 800,000 of armed personal under some form of government control (at least officially).
As there are no exact census numbers available for the Afghan population, I have used the three figures most commonly cited: 25 m. / 28 m. / 35 m. (although the 35 Mio is highly doubtful).
This results in the following ratio of fighters per capita of the population:
650,000 based on a population of 25 m. – 38.5
650,000 based on a population of 28 m. – 43.1
650,000 based on a population of 35 m. – 53.8
800,000 based on a population of 25 m. – 31.3
800,000 based on a population of 28 m. – 35.0
800,000 based on a population of 35 m. – 43.8
In the worst case scenario this would mean that 1 out of every 32 citizens (including women, children, elderly etc.) of Afghanistan would be the member of an armed force under some form of government control. This does neither include any form of attrition (casualties, defections, ‘absent-without-leave’ etc. – which is around 10 per cent in the ANA and 15-20 per cent in the ANP) or retention nor the armed opposition which would increase the ratio even further.
I wonder if even North Korea (after full mobilization) would be able to match those per capita numbers.
Apart from the issue of fiscal sustainability, the international community and the Afghan Government should consider the actual, realistic possibilities (capacities) for force generation.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020