No funding guarantee for Afghan security in new US military deal

The final version of a strategic partnership deal being drafted between the U.S. and Afghanistan will not include any funding guarantees for Afghan security forces, according to a Pentagon official.

Washington and Kabul agreed to a draft version of the deal on Sunday that sets the "strategic parameters" for future U.S. involvement in Afghanistan for the next 10 years, beginning in 2014, DOD spokesman Capt. John Kirby said Monday.

All U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by 2014. Roughly 23,000 American soldiers are set to rotate back to the United States this summer.

DOD is "pleased negotiations have advanced to the point they have,” Kirby told reporters during Monday’s briefing at the Pentagon.

White House and DOD officials are hopeful that the final deal will be wrapped up before NATO's annual conference in Chicago this May.

Kirby declined to comment on the details of the draft document because it is still under review by both countries. But he did note the deal would not include guaranteed U.S. funds for local security forces demanded by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“There [will be] no funding . . .in the deal,” Kirby said after the briefing. He characterized the pending post-war deal as a high-level, strategic type agreement with the Afghans.

The lack of any funding guarantee flies in the face of demands made by Afghan president Hamid Karzai last week.

In a speech last Tuesday, Karzai said the United States should guarantee that his country will receive at least $1 billion in annual security funds as part of any post-war deal.

Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, testified to Congress last month that Afghan forces will need between $4 billion and $5 billion annually to maintain operations against the Taliban and insurgent forces.

Reaction from Capitol Hill to Karzai's demand was swift and harsh.

Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said last week that Kabul is “reaching beyond what is realistic” in asking that the U.S. guarantee any financial support for security after the war.

While personally supportive of continuing American aid to Afghan forces, Levin said Karzai “is asking for something no president, or presidential nominee for that matter, can guarantee” in his demand for fiscal backing from the United States.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said any financial guarantee would be out of the question in terms of locking in a deal with Karzai’s administration.

“You have to deal with Congress when it comes to what funds are going to be provided,” Panetta said at a press conference last week. “And we don’t have the power to lock in money for the Afghans or anybody else.”

That said, DOD "well understands congressional prerogatives" in terms of future financing for Afghan forces, Kirby told reporters Monday.

That understanding will be reflected in the final version of the post-war deal with Afghanistan, he said.

It would also provide the basis for any future mission transition deals that are sure to come as U.S. troops begin pulling out of the country.

U.S. and coalition forces have already handed over control of detainee operations and night raid missions to Afghan forces.

The upcoming post-war deal with Kabul will be a "significant cornerstone" in those future mission transition talks, Kirby said.

However, the pending deal is "not just about a security relationship," Kirby pointed out. The deal would also act as the overarching framework for future economic and diplomatic relationships between the United States and Afghanistan, he added.

The deal, once complete, will be “a clear statement of [U.S.] desire to form and maintain” a long-term strategic relationship with Afghanistan after 2014, he said.

— Updated at 3:00 p.m.