The letter notes current supplies of cold-weather clothing are not sufficient for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces for 2015 and 2016, and could negatively impact their performance in combat and security operations.
The U.S. Department of Defense was responsible for supplying Afghan defense and security forces with military equipment, including clothing, following the U.S.-led coalition occupation of the country to rout Taliban and al-Qaida militants.
The U.S. Defense Department transferred responsibility for cold-weather gear to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior in 2011, as U.S. military involvement in the country was scaled back.
However, the department still assists in developing Afghanistan’s security capabilities, and reconstruction projects are still in progress.
The SIGAR letter to the U.S. Defense Department notes cold-weather gear has been falling short since that time.
“We recently learned that there have been shortages of cold-weather clothing for the ANDSF since 2011,” the Spoko writes.
Sopko points out the U.S. still remains the main source for cold-weather gear.
While the U.S. Department of Defense has 335,054 cold-weather coats on order for the Afghan National Army, delivery is not expected until March 2017, past the time when Sopko says the forces will critically need them.
Sopko also mentions this is not the first time a short supply of cold-weather clothing has been a concern for Afghan security personnel, saying coalition advisers warned that both the ANDSF and the ANP “had gone without proper uniforms for over two years” in 2013 and 2014.
The letter recommends the Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan (CSTC-A) should coordinate with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior to determine the number of supplies needed, evaluate potential future shortages in 2015 and 2016, and ensure the ANDSF has an adequate number of cold-weather clothing items for those years.