WASHINGTON, June 7, 2010 – The economic power of military-fueled industry has been illustrated throughout history, and it looks like the growth of the Afghan National Security Forces will be a boon to developing industries in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Col. John Ferrari, deputy of programs for NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, discussed how NATO and coalition forces have worked to build Afghan forces while focusing on Afghan industry to support military growth during a June 4 DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable.
Ferrari said his program will have spent about $40 billion by 2011 to recruit, train, equip and sustain the Afghan army, as well as the Afghan National Police. This year, Ferrari’s group has focused on an initiative called “Afghan First,” which promotes the participation of Afghan manufacturers, rather that purchasing imported equipment.
Their most-heralded success has been with Afghan boot manufacturer Kabul Milli, who not only received a contract to make the boots used by Afghan police and soldiers, but also received assistance to improve manufacturing techniques to make the boots more durable.
“In the past, we used to think we were buying boots here in Afghanistan, but it turned out that they were manufactured outside of Afghanistan and imported,” Ferrari said. “Now in our contract we specify that we're only going to buy boots that are manufactured in Afghanistan.”
Initially, the manufacturer was the only such business in the country. Since Kabul Milli won the contract and NATO said it would only buy Afghan-made boots, local competition has emerged, Ferrari said.
“We're investing hundreds of millions and billions of dollars into the local economy to jump-start manufacturing,” he said of the training command. “We're taking hundreds of thousands of Afghans who had no formal education, who are not literate; we're bringing them into the security forces.”