McCaffrey: Funds Needed to Improve Situation in Afghanistan

Posted March 5, 2007 at 7:14pm

Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, in his capacity of adjunct professor at West Point, blasted the Bush administration’s funding for the war in Afghanistan but added that he’s hopeful a new emergency war spending request will provide enough resources for the conflict.

“The war in Afghanistan has been shamefully under-resources by DOD throughout the entire intervention in terms of inter-agency involvement, U.S. combat forces, political will and nation-building resources,” McCaffrey, wrote in the document dated Feb. 26.

The memo, which was not publicly released, was an “after action report” about the retired four-star general’s visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan Feb. 16 to 23. It was obtained today by CongressNow.

In it, McCaffrey wrote that despite the Department of Defense funding hurdles, the situation in Afghanistan is now “turning rapidly” for the better because the president’s fiscal 2007 supplemental request, designed to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, includes funds to help fund reconstruction projects in the country.

Congress could take up the spending bill later this month. Pentagon leaders have told lawmakers it must be approved and signed by the president by mid-April to avoid having to cut current defense spending.

The funding proposal, delivered to lawmakers last month, requests $500 million for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, which supports operations in Iraq and Afghanistan by providing ground commanders with money to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction requirements.

The request also includes nearly $6 billion to continue building the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

McCaffrey’s report comes just days before the Senate Foreign Relations committee is set to hold a hearing dubbed “Afghanistan: Time for a New Strategy?” on March 8.

McCaffrey, who was appointed drug czar by then-President Bill Clinton, wrote that he believes Afghanistan has now become a narco-state because its opium and heroin trade bring in $3.1 billion annually, or one-third of the country’s gross-national product.

“The British have the lead for the [drug eradication] program and are not adequately resources for the effort,” he writes. “There is no single unifying leadership for the [United States] nor international effort. President Karzai gets no unified support from the international community-many urge him to ignore the drug eradication program.”

Last year, Congress passed legislation giving itself more oversight of the Defense Department’s role in eradicating drugs from Central Asia.

In the fiscal 2007 National Defense Appropriations Act, lawmakers said they were concerned with increased poppy production in Afghanistan. Appropriators gave the department $100 million this year to continue efforts to curtail poppy production and to train and equip the Afghanistan special narcotics police units and border agents.

However, lawmakers required that before the Defense Department spends the money, they first provide Congress a detailed execution plan.