20:44 GMT13 April 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Afghanistan's military and security forces will not be able to function independently by 2024 without US financial and other support, Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopco said in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Wednesday.

    "[T]he Defense Department no longer considers the long-held goal of a financially self-sustaining Afghan security force by 2024 to be realistic", Sopco said.

    The Afghan government cannot even effectively manage the money it currently receives from international donors, especially to finance its security forces, and the US government believes it will not even be able to operate a state-of-the-art payroll system that the United States supplied for several years to come, Sopco also said.

    "The US military believes the Afghan government may be several years away from being able to take over ownership, management, and sustainment of the $50 million payroll system used to ensure that the US taxpayer is not paying for Afghan ‘ghost’ soldiers who exist only on paper and that military and police salaries do not end up in the pockets of corrupt officials", Sopko added.

    If the goal of the US-led reconstruction effort was to build a strong, stable, self-reliant Afghan state that could protect US national security interests as well as its own, it was a mission that had yet to be accomplished, according to Sopko.

    security, Afghanistan, US
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