From Joshua Partlow, the Washington Post: NATO’s war planners call it the “iron mountain,” the $2.7 billion mass of military equipment that will be dropped on Afghanistan over the next eight months. But will the mountain be tall enough?
Between now and next March, the U.S.-led coalition will deliver 22,000 vehicles, including 514 new four-wheeled “mobile strike force” armored vehicles yet to be used in Afghanistan, 44 airplanes and helicopters, 40,000 weapons, and tens of thousands of radios and other pieces of communications gear. “It’s an enormous amount of equipment, vehicles and weapons,” said one U.S. military official.
Some Afghans, however, are looking at what the mountain’s missing, particularly fighter jets and tanks. Among them is Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, who believes such sophisticated weaponry would intimidate the Taliban and keep neighbors Iran and Pakistan at bay.
Sentiment inside the palace seems to be shifting away from Wardak’s view. President Hamid Karzai and others say they are not interested in fielding an army and police force they cannot afford or sustain as American troops withdraw, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. With a faltering U.S. economy, American military officials have been rapidly downgrading estimates of how much they’ll have to spend on the Afghan security forces by 2014, the year the Afghan government is to assume control. Estimates that stood as high as $8 billion earlier have now fallen to $3 billion and below.