At the Monday meetings, leaders will also discuss the expense of continued support for Afghanistan’s security forces after 2014.
The United States spent $12 billion last year, 95 percent of the total cost, to train and equip an Afghan army and police force that is expected to total 352,000 by this fall. With a gross domestic product of about $17 billion, Afghanistan is incapable of funding a force that size.
As it looks for a way to cut future costs and assumes an eventual political solution to the war among the Afghans themselves, the administration has projected that Afghanistan’s security needs could be met even if the force were cut by up to one-third. It estimates the cost of sustaining the reduced force at about $4.1 billion a year, half of which the United States would provide. Afghanistan would pay about $500,000. [Emphasis mine] - Washington Post
I think these numbers tell the story of Afghanistan. First, we just spent $12 billion to bring Afghan security forces to a level that is patently unsustainable - and so the Afghan Army is going to shrink back to a more manageable size. We literally spent billions and put U.S. trainers at risk to develop an army that's going to shrink away in two years. How is that not an egregious waste?
Moreover, even the $4 billion-a-year seems fanciful. First, it's grounded on the assumption of a political settlement. Is that likely? What if there isn't one? And what if Europe decides to pass on "investing" anymore of their increasingly scarce resources in Afghanistan? I don't know how much aid the Taliban is receiving from Pakistan or Persian Gulf donors, but I'm willing to bet it's nothing remotely close to $4 billion, and they're fighting just fine. What the Afghans are missing isn't shiny uniforms or training in how to kill one another, but institutions worth fighting for. The U.S. has not developed those institutions after 10 years and it's impossible to imagine those institutions developing as the aid begins to dry up and the Afghans are left to "take the lead."