U.S. and coalition efforts to develop an effective command and control system in Afghanistan have a long way to go before Afghan forces are ready to take the lead on security operations in 2014, according to a new report by the Inspector General for the Department of Defense. 

“The ANA’s progress in developing its C2 capabilities may be hampered or even reversed if a number of resource-intensive, high risk challenges are not properly addressed and resolved,” the report said. (See the complete report in the embedded viewer below this story.)

The Inspector General’s team observed the Afghan National Security Force’s response to the April 15, 2012 attack on Kabul, assessing its C2 capabilities at the strategic and operational level.

The Afghan National Army’s command and control system is “marginally sufficient” but fragile and heavily dependent on coalition forces, the report said. The ANA conducts counterinsurgency missions independent of coalition forces and has improved its ability to respond to attacks, but its C2 coordination is still largely dependent on coalition help, according to the DOD IG.

Many of the C2 agencies established for coordination are hindering ANA’s readiness, the DOD IG said.

For instance, coalition forces developed Ground Forces Command to lead ANA forces by October 2012, but several Afghan officials expressed doubt that GFC would exist for long after the transition to Afghan command.

“Several Afghan National Security Forces stakeholders expressed their belief that GFC was an unnecessary, intermediate layer of bureaucracy,” the DOD IG said.

Similarly, the Afghan Air Force’s Air Command and Control Center “did not consistently function as a command and control node [center] and was arguably a redundant layer of coordination with questionable effectiveness.”

Several other things could hamper fragile C2 abilities. Local Afghan governance, border trouble with Pakistan and corruption could all slow ANA’s ability to take the lead in plans and operations by 2014.

ANA will require coalition support for logistics, intelligence and reconnaissance, medical support, and other support until command and control is less fragile, the DOD IG said.