Afghanistan — Finances Improve for Developing Afghan Forces

WASHINGTON — A multi­na­tion­al team in Afghanistan is work­ing to man­age and exe­cute the fund­ing and devel­op­ment of Afghanistan’s nation­al secu­ri­ty forces.

“I’ve seen some pret­ty dra­mat­ic improve­ment over the last four years,” U.S. Army Col. Curt A. Rauhut, direc­tor of NATO’s finan­cial con­troller office that over­sees the Afghanistan mis­sion, said yes­ter­day dur­ing a “DoDLive” blog­gers round­table.

“Four years ago a bunch of us were sent over here to try to help expand com­mer­cial bank­ing, because the man­u­al sys­tem they had try­ing to pay peo­ple was a chal­lenge,” Rauhut said. Also, there were numer­ous reports of cor­rup­tion and fraud through­out the coun­try, he said.

“I’m very hap­py to report that the banks have expand­ed and there is a pres­ence in almost all 34 provinces,” Rauhut said. “I see that as a good thing.”

Rauhut helps man­age a joint, multi­na­tion­al 60-per­son staff, and assists in the man­age­ment and exe­cu­tion of the Afghanistan Secu­ri­ty Force Fund.

The mis­sion of his team, Rauhut said, is to pro­vide the com­mand­ing gen­er­al with inte­grat­ed and coor­di­nat­ed rec­om­men­da­tions on bud­get for­mu­la­tion, exe­cu­tion and analy­sis so that they can have a capa­ble Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty force. His group also works to build finan­cial reform with­in the Afghan Nation­al Police and Afghan Nation­al Army.

Rauhut also serves as finan­cial con­troller of the NATO Com­mon Fund and pro­vides finan­cial over­sight and man­age­ment of con­tri­bu­tions from the 19 donor nations into the NATO Trust and Sus­tain­ment Fund.

The annu­al bud­get for the ANP and the ANA is $10.2 bil­lion, which Rauhut said is used to pay for infra­struc­ture, equip­ment, train­ing and sus­tain­ment of a force of more than 305,000 peo­ple.

Rauhut said one of his biggest chal­lenges when he arrived in Afghanistan was get­ting pay­roll into the hands of the police offi­cers and sol­diers. Cre­at­ing an elec­tron­ic funds trans­fer sys­tem allowed work­ers to avoid pay fraud — which in some cas­es sol­diers were receiv­ing only 40 to 50 per­cent of their pay — and to receive their pay in a time­ly man­ner. Cur­rent­ly, 95 per­cent of the Afghan mil­i­tary and 77 per­cent of police receive their pay through elec­tron­ic funds trans­fer.

“There are places here in the 34 provinces where you would have to have a gov­ern­ment enti­ty to pay peo­ple,” Rauhut said.

The team also has start­ed a new ini­tia­tive called pay by phone, where they use cell phone tech­nol­o­gy to pay mem­bers of the Afghan Nation­al police. Par­tic­i­pants in the pro­gram receive a text mes­sage not­ing that mon­ey was deposit­ed into their account. The police then go to an autho­rized cell phone deal­er where they receive their pay instead of vis­it­ing a bank.

“We’ve done that just on a lim­it­ed basis,” Rauhut said. “But we are look­ing to do some more mobile bank­ing and pay by phone ini­tia­tives for those areas that com­mer­cial bank­ing and pri­vate bank­ing haven’t reached yet.”

Anoth­er improve­ment that Rauhut is proud of is that there’s now com­pet­i­tive pay for Afghan police and sol­diers.

“We look at the aver­age pay of oth­er gov­ern­ment work­ers and busi­ness­men and offer com­pa­ra­ble salaries to them,” he said. “We are con­stant­ly mon­i­tor­ing the pay scales and there are adjust­ments that are made.”

The biggest improve­ment that Rauhut has seen from his pre­vi­ous deploy­ments is the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the train­ing for Afghan sol­diers and police. “I’ve been back five months and you can see the pen­du­lum swing that Afghanistan is a pri­or­i­ty of the [train­ing] effort,” he said.

Rauhut said the low lit­er­a­cy rate in Afghanistan is a chal­lenge and offi­cials there are work­ing to cre­ate lit­er­ate and pro­fes­sion­al mil­i­tary and police forces.

“There is a lot of train­ing that is going on,” he said. “Our coali­tion part­ners here bring a vast skill set that make the train­ing here much bet­ter for the army and the police.” Rauhut said he believes his office is crit­i­cal in sup­port­ing the effort to the over­all strat­e­gy in Afghanistan.

“I real­ly am pleased to see first­hand, after being here four years ago, the sig­nif­i­cant progress that has been made,” he said.

“I was cau­tious­ly opti­mistic four years ago,” he con­tin­ued, “but I am now con­vinced a pro­fes­sion­al Afghanistan nation­al army and Afghanistan nation­al police force is hap­pen­ing and is hap­pen­ing now.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)