11 March 2021
by Gabriel Dominguez
The departure of thousands of foreign contractors from Afghanistan by 1 May, as stipulated in the February 2020 conditions-based US-Taliban agreement, may have a devastating impact on the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces, US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko has warned.
In remarks prepared for his latest ‘High-Risk List’ report on Afghanistan, Sopko said on 10 March, “While almost all of the attention to date has been on the withdrawal of US and coalition military forces, an equally serious threat to Afghan stability is largely being ignored. And that is the provision of last year’s US-Taliban agreement that stipulates that in addition to the departure of troops, all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel also must leave the country by May 1st”.
An Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft. On 10 March SIGAR John Sopko warned about the “devastating” impact a departure of foreign contractors from Afghanistan by 1 May would have on ANDSF effectiveness. He quoted TAAC-Air as saying that currently “no Afghan airframe can be sustained as combat-effective for more than a few months in the absence of [foreign] contractor support”. (USAF 438th Air Expeditionary Wing)
Sopko warned that, should this come to pass, “SIGAR and many others believe this may be more devastating to the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces – and the survival of the Afghan state as we know it – than the withdrawal of our remaining military forces”.
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The departure of thousands of foreign contractors from Afghanistan by 1 May, as stipulated in the Fe...