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Afghanistan, coalition partners discuss strategy for budget requirements, transparency

By By Lt. j.g. Charity Edgar, Resolute Support Public Affairs

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KABUL, Afghanistan, June 22, 2015 - Coalition partners from 17 donor nations convened the fourth ambassador-level Oversight and Coordination Body at the Ministry of Finance here June 16. 

The Oversight and Coordination Body is a biannual gathering that enables the international community, the Afghan government and Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan, or CSTC-A, to coordinate donor commitments with budgeted Afghan National Defense Security Forces, or ANDSF, sustainment in 2015 and beyond.

"This meeting is essential for Afghan leaders and donor countries alike," said Maj. Gen. Todd Semonite, CSTC-A commander. "We are able to come together and reflect on our successes, examine areas for improvement and continue the upward trajectory of strong, sustainable Afghan security institutions."

Afghan Minister of Finance Eklil Ahmad Hakimi co-chaired the event with Markus Potzel, German ambassador to Afghanistan. Afghanistan's Acting Minister of Defense Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai and Deputy Minister for Strategy and Policy at the Ministry of Interior Maj. Gen. Masood Azizi were honored guests and discussed their agencies' requirements and the actions being taking to accomplish them.

Afghanistan and the coalition partners agreed upon joint goals for 2016 which include enduring processes that guide fiscal discipline and continued strengthening of donor confidence leading up to the next NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland, in July 2016.

The NATO mission in Afghanistan, known as Resolute Support, currently has about 13,000 troops from about 42 contributing nations.

Afghanistan's Supreme Audit Office Deputy Auditor General Sayed Mahdi M. Hussaini highlighted the importance of strengthening ANDSF internal controls and auditing capacities while Yama Yari, director general for the National Procurement Authority, spoke on the increasing transparency and accountability in the national procurement system.

Stanekzai stressed the Ministry of Defense's commitment to improve transparency in procurement, pay, recruitment and promotion systems. "The more than 10-year partnership with the coalition partners has set the stage for enduring stability."

Semonite provided the coalition perspective to the group. He focused on fiscal discipline cultivated through budget compliance, which he stressed was an essential cost saving approach to expand ANDSF capacity.

"President [Ashraf] Ghani has asked the coalition to help the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior leadership to find savings in the budget to make these security forces more affordable," said Semonite, adding that a collaborative effort finds budget savings while improving warfighting capability and business systems.

Semonite closed his remarks by quoting President Ghani, "The Resolute Support legacy to Afghanistan will not be guns and ammo ... but systems and processes that enable fiscal discipline for the future."