The White House’s FY2021 Afghan Security Aid Request

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John D. Strong II

Amidst news of a possible U.S.-Taliban peace agreement, the White House has released its FY2021 National Security budget request, including proposed funding for Afghanistan’s security forces.

The account, Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF), is one of the largest military aid programs in the U.S. budget, accounting for nearly a quarter of all security assistance in FY2019. FY2021’s request amounts to $4.015B, and though that is a small 4% reduction from FY2020 appropriations, the shift in funding priorities is significant.

Of the four main program areas for the ASFF – Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan Air Force (AAF), and Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) – all except the ASSF would see cuts under the White House proposal.

The 84% rise in the proposed funding for the ASSF, which the DoD describes as the “forces that have proven most effective on the battlefield”, is due in large part to the 30 fold increase in requested funds for aircraft, specifically, 10 CH-47 helicopters. The massive boost in funding is intended to transition the Special Mission Wing, an elite air support unit in the Afghan Military, from Russian U.S. rotary aircraft.

The 30% cut to the AAF would come most specifically from a drop in sustainment funding for rotary-wing aircraft, which would go from $401M in FY2020 (appropriated) to $210M. As noted in the request, the AAF still depends on external assistance to maintain its aircraft fleet.

For the ANA, which usually represents the bulk of ASFF funding, the 22% cut in proposed funding from FY2020 levels comes in part from a reduction in Combat Forces and Logistics sustainment assistance. The largest line item cut would be a $94M cut to a contract that provides the bulk of diesel fuel requirements for ANA operations.

The ANP would see the least amount of funding changes, with a small 8% cut, coming mostly from a $50M reduction in proposed funding for Training and Operations when compared to FY2020 appropriations.

Overall, where it not for the $614M boost to the ASSF, the rest of the budget would see more than a 21% reduction in funding when compared to FY2020 appropriations. As always, the request is subject to Congress’s budgeting authority, and will almost certainly see changes when it eventually is before the House and Senate. Check out our graphic below for some more details on the breakdown of assistance compared to previous years.