"Taliban Pays Its Troops Better Than Karzai Pays His "

"Are the Taliban shelling out more money for their fighters than the U.S. and the international community are for Afghan security forces? The American military says no, and e-mails the chart below to make its case. But it’s not the most persuasive document. And it’s undermined by one of the reports in WikiLeaks’ trove of war logs. In February 2008, a U.S. military report from southern Afghanistan documented how a Taliban leader offered a brigade commander in the Afghan National Army $100,000 to quit his job. (He also had his family’s safety threatened as an or-else.) That would be a lucrative bribe for most people. But as the American chart shows, a colonel in the Afghan national security forces would have to put in 24 years of service before pulling down $805 per month. That should give a sense of what the incentive structure is for Afghans caught in their country’s war — including those willing to answer the call of the Karzai government to join the army and police forces. In December, now-retired General Stanley McChrystal testified to Congress that the pay scale of the Afghan security forces was “almost at parity” with the estimated $300 that the Taliban pays its foot soldiers per month. But look at the chart, issued before McChrystal testified. An Afghan policeman or soldier with under three years in uniform pulls in $165 per month.Lieutenant Colonel Dave Hylton, a spokesman for the NATO mission to train the Afghan security forces, says that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. His information is that the Taliban pays about $10 per day for fighters — presumably that’s where McChrystal’s $300 monthly figure came from. But that’s allegedly not year-round: the Taliban, according to NATO, don’t pay when they’re not fighting, while the Afghan security forces budget for a full twelve months. Plus, if a soldier or policeman is in a “hazardous zone,” Hylton says, he gets an additional $75."