Center for American Progress

Demilitarize Development Assistance in Afghanistan
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Demilitarize Development Assistance in Afghanistan

The U.S. military has a role to play, but it needs to shift its development assistance where possible so that it moves through state institutions and is distributed by civilians, especially Afghans.

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Far too much development and governance assistance is being channeled through and implemented by the military as part of a short-term stabilization agenda. The U.S. military has a role to play, but it needs to shift its development assistance where possible so that it moves through state institutions and is distributed by civilians, especially Afghans.

The international community should be aware of the perverse incentives they may be creating by providing assistance to the most insecure areas of Afghanistan rather than the secure areas. And they should recognize that pouring development aid into insecure areas does not necessarily win over hearts and minds or create positive outcomes for development or government legitimacy. Therefore, more effort should be made to ensure that aid is distributed equitably throughout the country based on the development and humanitarian needs and not just security outcomes, as well as by the Afghan government’s national development plans. Moreover, greater oversight of Provincial Reconstruction Teams and their projects is required, and a plan should set out a pathway for PRTs to evolve from providing development assistance to focusing on security.

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