Financial trust supports Afghanistan
4 September 2018
An Australian Army officer in Kabul is dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars as he liaises with 33 nations to encourage donors to further commit to projects for the NATO-run, Afghan National Army Trust Fund.
Staff Officer International Engagement, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Marr, of Headquarters Resolute Support, is a former British officer who spent the past eight years as a program manager with the Australian Department of Defence Capability, Acquisition and Sustainment Group.
His past experience of working with NATO and his understanding of procurement, projects, purchasing and tendering have been extremely useful in this deployed role within a multinational cell.
Lieutenant Colonel Marr is deployed on Operation Highroad, which is the Australian commitment to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner.
There are about 300 Australian personnel deployed to Afghanistan and more than 16,000 personnel from 41 NATO member states and partner countries are deployed in support of Resolute Support.
The Afghan National Army Trust Fund receives nearly US$380M a year, with Australia being the second highest financial contributor (US$80M/year) after Germany.
As of July 2018, the total contributions made were US$2.42B.
The Trust Fund is directly linked to the implementation of a roadmap launched by the Afghan government to further develop their security forces and institutions.
The roadmap has four key elements, namely enhancing national combat capabilities, countering corruption, developing new military leaders and establishing proper command and control arrangements in the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
Lieutenant Colonel Marr said there were more than 200 projects underway in Afghanistan costing from tens of thousands of dollars, such as building a counter-improvised explosive device lane, through to tens of millions of dollars for projects, such as support to Afghan Air Force helicopter sustainment. Australia makes a significant contribution to sustaining this capability and will be deploying Blackhawk advisors to further support Afghan Air Force development.
“Another project with Australian involvement is the replacement of the counter- improvised explosive device capability used by the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police,” he said.
“The project is worth about US$48M and so far, we’ve sourced $43M, which will give the Afghan Forces an upgraded, but sustainable capability, in their protection against IEDs.”
Lieutenant Colonel Marr said another project in progress with Australian involvement was to improve the security for the greater Kabul City area, to include the Enhanced Security Zone, commonly known as the ‘Green Zone’, through installing close circuit television coverage.
“The Australian Government is a significant contributor to the project providing close to US$20M for the building containing the operations centre,” he said.
"The system will enhance public safety for the residents of Kabul, including the security for the embassies and coalition installations, assist in the fight against terrorism, deter criminal activity, counter corruption, enable the tracking of vehicles, provide a forensic capability and support the Kabul Security plan."
The Trust Fund is one of three funding streams used by the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan and the international community to channel financial support to Afghanistan’s security forces and institutions.
The other two are the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, administered by the United Nations Development Programme, and the United States Afghanistan Security Forces Fund.
The Law and Order Fund is used to pay the salaries of police and correction personnel and to build the capacity of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior and the police.
The Security Forces Fund is subject to a US-Afghan bilateral agreement and pays for equipping and running Afghanistan’s security forces. The three funds combined total more than US$5B.
Lieutenant Colonel Marr said at the recent NATO meeting in Brussels the partner nations all agreed to support the rebuilding of Afghanistan through to 2024.
The long-term goal is to build the capacity of security institutions to enable Afghanistan to independently sustain their security forces in the future.
“All the supporting nations are striving for Afghanistan to stand on its own two feet and have a sustainable future,” he said.