AT News Report
KABUL: The Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Saturday vehemently spurned a report by a US watchdog on the existence of ‘Ghost’ Personnel” in the ranks of the Afghan National Army (ANA), saying the military personnel had rather a 100 percent physical presence on the ground.
According to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Afghan military and police force strength has declined by 20 percent – nearly 42,000 personnel – since its previous quarterly report, reaching its lowest levels since 2015.
In its quarterly report to the United States Congress, SIGAR, however, said the change in the Afghanistan Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) might be due to a new tallying method which strives to reduce the number of so-called ‘ghost’ personnel in the force.
However, MoD said there was no nonexistent soldier among the ANA personnel. MoD Spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said that the military men had a 100 percent ‘physical presence’ in their duties, adding that those who were involved in corruption in this regard were under judicial prosecution.
“There is no ‘ghost soldier’ in the ranks of the ANA,” Ahmadzai told reporters. “SIGAR has not contacted MoD when it made the report and it has not asked for information from the ministry.”
He said SIGAR had mistaken the count of Afghan military personnel as the total number was predicted to be 234,000 while the actual and ready force of the military was 200,000.
Ahmadzai said the names of 23,000 individuals had been removed from the system on the basis of retirement, martyrdom, disability and other reasons, adding over 99 percent military personnel had gone through biometric process.
According to the SIGAR’s report, the new Afghan Personnel and Pay System (APPS) is part of Kabul’s ongoing effort to crack down on corruption, particularly the collection of paychecks issued to so-called “ghost” personnel – former officers who are still being paid, “even if they have resigned, been terminated, or killed.”