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Allies pledge $1 billion for Afghan forces

21 May 2012 No Comment

Countries with troops in Afghanistan have pledged roughly $1 billion to help bankroll Afghan security forces once most NATO troops withdraw by the end of 2014, on top of funds promised by the United States, a Western official said Sunday.

The financial commitments in the “billion dollar range” represent “major progress” towards a goal of $1.3 billion from nations in the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, the Western official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

“A few months ago, the piggy bank wasn’t expected to be this full,” the official said, as NATO held a summit in Chicago focused largely on the Afghanistan war.

The United States estimates $4.1 billion is needed to fund the Afghan army and police between 2015 and 2017, after the departure of NATO combat troops.

The Afghan government is supposed to contribute $500 million from its meager budget, but will not be able to cover the projected costs of the security forces for years.

The total cost of financing the Afghan forces is equivalent to a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and two-and-a-half times the total government revenue, according to the US Institute for Peace.

Washington plans to deliver about $2.3 billion to pay for the Afghan forces and apart from Kabul’s contribution, the remaining funds, $1.3 billion, will need to come from the 49 governments in the International Security Assistance Force, as well as Japan and Gulf states.

Britain has already said it will provide 70 million pounds ($110 million), Australia $100 million and Germany 150 million euros ($191 million) per year for the Afghan forces.

France has yet to decide what it will contribute and is waiting for a conference on Afghan security forces scheduled in July.

Troop levels for the Afghan forces are set to reach 352,000 by October but are due to be scaled back to about 230,000 in the longer term to save money, according to NATO officials.

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