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The Killid Group

2014: Fuel costs beyond ANA's means

Written by Hamed Kohistani
Sunday, 04 December 2011 09:07

2014: Fuel costs beyond ANA's means By 2014 the Afghan National Army (ANA) would have taken complete responsibility for security from departing US and NATO forces. President Hamid Karzai told the Loya Jirga that Afghan security forces were "self-sufficient". Killid investigated the claim to discover that it might not be so.
The ANA, which will be 260,000-strong by 2015, is funded mainly by the US through the US Department of Defence. It is trained and supplied by different branches of the US armed forces. The US provides vehicles, weapons and other military equipment, and fuel, which is brought in tankers from Pakistani ports and from Afghanistan's northern neighbours. Supplies of diesel are essential for the generators that light up military establishments across the country.
According to our investigation, the Ministry of Defence may not be able to supply fuel for the generators particularly the ANA's six corps (the corps are regional commands, and each responsible for one major area in the country).
The total consumption by the corps every 24 hours is an estimated 600,000 litres, according to officials. But independent calculations by Killid put the figure at 100,000 litres. Authorities in the Ministry of Defence and military officials admit the fuel for generators was an exorbitant expense. The regional commands for the ANA are: 201st Corps (Kabul), 203rd Corps (Gardez), 205th Corps (Kandahar), 207th Corps (Herat), 209th Corps (Mazar-e-Sharif), 215th Corps (Lashkar Gah). The capital's 111th Capital Division was carved out of the 201st Corps in 2008.

Mindboggling amounts of fuel
General Qadam Shah, commander of the 111 Capital Division, said in an interview with Killid that they needed between 75,000 and 80,000 litres of fuel per day, which is a major burden on the country's economy. In his opinion, the military headquarters and other establishments should be connected to Kabul's electricity network to ensure a smooth switch over in a situation where the international forces are pulling out, and the government may not be able to assure smooth supplies of fuel for generators. To function efficiently ANA offices and establishments must have electricity. "If military offices are not connected to the city power network it will affect the ability of the Ministry of Defence," he said.
Brigadier General Zalmai Wesa, commander of the 209 Corps said the army could save a major expense if it was connected to the civil electricity network. He would not say how many litres of fuel were used in 24 hours by the Corps based in the north.
General Mohamad Amir Baqayee, deputy chief of the 205th Corps said he could not provide even an estimate because all fuel was supplied by the US. General Abdul Rawoof of the 203rd Corps confirmed that diesel generators powered everything on their bases.
"The lubricants (and fuel) for the generators are provided by US troops. It may be 150,000 litres of oil." Killid tried to establish contact with the commanders of 201st and 203rd Corps but failed.

Power utility can meet demands
General Qadam Shah blamed an outdated procurement system and bureaucracy in the Ministry of Defence for the use of generators. His suggestion: Ministry of Defence should create a budget for the purchase of machinery required to connect the military to the power network. Is this urgently required? Brigadier General Zalmai Wesa thinks there is no hurry; the US will give sufficient notice if it was about to stop paying for fuel supplies for military generators.
Meanwhile General Zahir Azimi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, confirmed the ministry is aware of the problem, and has appointed a delegation that held a meeting with the Ministry of Power and Energy recently. According to him the delegation has the power to take decisions to solve the problem in power-rich provinces.
The national power utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) has not received any requests from the Ministry of Defence, confirmed Mirwais Alemi, the director. The DABS network has catered mainly to private individuals but it has the capacity and technological experience to provide power to the military should the utility be asked, he said.

Vanishing supplies
If it was only a matter of asking why was it not done before?  Abdul Wahid Taqat, retired general and military expert, said it was because "national and international mafia" who "embezzle big money" from the military do not want the fuel supplies to stop. Security forces suffer from widespread corruption including vanishing supplies. There is outright theft of fuel; and vehicles, weapons and other military equipment are reported missing.
In his speech to the Loya Jirga, President Karzai said he has started efforts to plan defence affairs according to the money and ability of Afghan security forces. The ministers of interior, defence and the National Directorate of Security have been told to take control of training and planning, the president said. Meanwhile, former US ambassador Karl Eikenberry is reported to have questioned the government's ability to meet the expenses of its military, which is an estimated 7 milliard USD, three times the country's revenue.

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