Afghan leaders to DOD: Keep the money flowing

Keeping DOD dollars flowing to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)  after American troops leave the country in 2014 was a hot topic during Tuesday's meeting between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Afghan defense chief Abdul Rahim Wardak. 

“The security environment by itself will either agree with the figures or not ... that is something that is subject to revision,” Wardak told reporters Tuesday, shortly after his meeting with Panetta, according to Bloomberg. 

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Getting the 352,000-man Afghan security force fully trained and equipped will cost the United States roughly $4 billion annually. That figure could get smaller as that force drops down to 230,000 by 2017. 

Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, told Congress last month that DOD could afford to dedicate $1 billion a year to finance local security forces in Afghanistan. 

But with Pentagon already trimming $500 billion from its coffers over the next decade, beginning in fiscal 2013, department priorities could overshadow those in Afghanistan.

Those outstanding questions on U.S. funding for Afghan forces, combined with plans to shrink those forces in 2017, has already raised a few eyebrows on Capitol Hill. 

“Given the fact that transition to a strong Afghan security force is the key to success of this mission, why does it make sense to talk about reducing the size of the Afghan army by a third?” Senate Armed Services Committee chief Carl Levin (D-Mich.) pressed Allen during a March 22 hearing. 

The debate over whether the United States will keep the ANSF fiscally afloat comes as Allen and other coalition commanders are starting to hand over key missions to Afghan troops. 

Washington and Kabul finalized a deal on Sunday to give Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government full oversight of night raids launched by American and Afghan special forces. 

U.S. and coalition forces officially handed over control of all terrorist detainee operations in the country. 

That deal, finalized on April 2, included transferring control of the Parwan detention facility at Bagram Air Force base to Kabul.  

That transition of missions will eventually pave the way for U.S. and coalition forces to leave Afghanistan by 2014.