October 18, 2011 / 1:22 PM / 9 years ago

Afghan security to cost "$5 billion a year" after pullout

An Afghan policeman keeps watch near the house of the head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani, after a blast in Kabul September 20, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

KABUL (Reuters) - A fully fledged Afghan national security force, including army and police, will cost about $5 billion (3.2 billion pounds) a year after international combat forces pull out in 2014, the Afghanistan defence minister told reporters on Tuesday.

The price tag estimated by Abdul Rahim Wardak was more than three times the Afghan government’s domestic revenue in 2010, and about a third of the country’s gross domestic product.

“At the present level of security environment we are facing, it will be about $5 billion a year,” Wardak told journalists at the heavily guarded ministry, where a display of the Afghan army’s foreign supplied weaponry and equipment, from socks to helicopters, was shown to journalists.

Afghanistan’s government has pinned its hopes of rebuilding the country’s economy, and of earning the money it needs for the army and police, on attracting investment in copper and iron ore resources, which it reckons could be worth up to $3 trillion.

Wardak said the government’s goal was to build a force that did not rely on foreign help, but he made it clear that a transition period was needed.

During this period, he said, Afghanistan would require foreign money, mainly from the United States, to maintain the force.

He did not elaborate on the length of the transition period, but William Patey, Britain’s ambassador in Kabul, has said Afghanistan may need financial support until 2025, and military support for many years after the 2014 deadline for foreign combat troops to leave.

President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers have agreed that all foreign combat troops will return home by the end of 2014. Some Afghans fear that Afghan forces will not be able to stop the country slipping into full-blown civil war.

Reporting by Zhou Xin; Editing by Daniel Magnowski and Robert Birsel

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