At 2pm today the Pentagon will release its latest set of metrics on how the nation-building effort tin Afghanistan is going, the first such Congressionally-mandated update since December 2012.
The “1230” report—named after section 1230 of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act that calls for the update—is the one bit of official reporting we get each year about the hard numbers for recruitment and retention of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and the progress in standing up a working governing and security apparatus in Kabul.
From 2009 through 2012 the Pentagon actually issued two reports a year, with one coming out in the spring and another in the fall, but this is the first for 2013 meaning that we’ll finally see the numbers for everything since October 2012 — which is critical for a post-surge Afghanistan that is supposed to be on a glide path to acting independently in preparation for the NATO pullout by December 2014.
The last report came in for some harsh criticism since it exposed but appeared to brush away the steady bleed of soldiers and cops from the ANSF, which averaged anywhere from 2,400 to 5,500 soldiers a month every month from Sept. 2010 to Sept 2012, with most months hovering somewhere in the 3,000 to 4,000 soldier range.
Another way to say that is that the Afghan Army shed a full 27 percent of its force October 2011 to September 2012 due to soldiers simply walking away after the NATO coalition spent money to recruit, train, and equip them.
What’s more, by October of last year the report said that of the 146 Kandaks in the Afghan Army, (battalion-sized units of several hundred soldiers), 25 had still not been assessed for readiness by ISAF forces, 22 were “effective with assistance,” 72 were “effective with advisers,” and another 20 were “independent with advisers.”
The meanings of those readiness assessments have changed over the years, which will be another metric to look for this afternoon. We’ll have a full report later today.