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When an independent audit of CERP funds was attempted by the Defense Department in 2006, the two officials said, the auditors weren’t given full access to review all projects, even though a July 2005 memo from the Pentagon comptroller´s office had required all officials to “cooperate fully with any review, audit or investigation” by U.S. authorities.

The two officials said that only $3 million in projects was audited, and that of that amount, nearly $1.7 million went for activities outside the original scope of the program.

‘Piecemeal’ police training

The U.S. also struggled to build a functioning police force.

Instead of creating a community-based force to handle everyday law enforcement, U.S. authorities shaped the police into a paramilitary outfit that attempts to fill gaps in the U.S.-led coalition but lacks the training or pay to fight insurgents successfully, according to interviews.

“A narrow focus on counterterrorism in the post-Taliban period led to over-securitization of the rule of law despite the fact that the establishment of the rule of law is the key to winning the people in post-conflict environments,” said Ali Jalali, Afghan interior minister from 2003 through 2005.

“This led to building the police as a counterinsurgency force. Instead of police protecting the population, they were pushed to fight insurgents. This subordinated the rule of law to operational security tasks,” Mr. Jalali said.

He added that “the push for quick training and equipping police forces in large numbers thwarted police capacity both as a law enforcement agent and as a counterinsurgency force. The inadequately trained, lightly equipped, poorly paid and badly led police forces deployed in small numbers in remote areas were extremely vulnerable to attacks by well-armed insurgents, causing heavy losses to the force. The neglect turned the police into an incompetent and corrupt force, driving the people away from the government.”

Mr. Neumann acknowledged problems.

“We got into police training piecemeal and late,” he said. The State Department “originally funded [the program], but it had so many problems that responsibility for implementation was transferred to the military, with policy direction remaining with the ambassador.”

Mr. Neumann said the State Department lacked personnel to deal with the police, while the U.S. military had “more bodies” to throw at the program.

Given an expanded Taliban offensive in the summer of 2006, however, “we could neither get additional U.S. forces nor expand the Afghan army in time to meet the need,” he said. “We tried to use the Auxiliary Police for static security under Ministry of Interior authority. In the end, the program ran into many problems, but the concept was a last-ditch effort to provide security to the population.”

Underarmed and exposed, the police continue to bear the brunt of Taliban attacks, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry, which recorded nearly 1,200 insurgency-related police deaths last year.

Gen. Fields told The Times that his organization needs more money to do its job and that he is seeking $7.2 million on top of $16 million appropriated last year.

“The shortfall limits our ability to provide oversight of the $32 billion reconstruction program,” Gen. Fields said. “[We] hope that additional resources will be made available soon so that SIGAR can move forward to provide the oversight that the Congress intended.”

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