EFFECTIVENESS OF THE COMMANDER'S EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROGRAM EXPLAINED BY AFGHAN PERCEPTIONS OF RECONSTRUCTION OUTPUTS
In this paper I study the effectiveness of US spending on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. The Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) has been used by Provincial Reconstruction Teams and conventional US military forces in Afghanistan since 2004 to catalyze reconstruction, improve security, and extend the reach of the central government. Although millions of Department of Defense (DoD) dollars have been disbursed through CERP, little quantitative analysis of its effectiveness has been conducted. This research evaluates the relationship between CERP dollars spent (aggregated at the province level) and Afghan perceptions of reconstruction in 14 provinces with a concentrated US military presence. Data on perceptions of Afghans was derived from the Cognitive Effects Evaluation Survey (CEE) conducted from December 2006 through January 2007 in the 14 provinces of interest and CERP data was obtained through the Department of Defense Freedom of Information Act process. The theory predicts that an increase in CERP spending, holding all other variables constant, would increase Afghan perceptions of reconstruction outputs. However, I did not find a strong correlation between CERP funding and Afghan perceptions of reconstruction. This research was a first attempt to quantify reconstruction outcomes in Afghanistan using the perceptions of Afghans as a measuring stick. Although the findings are inconclusive, it provides a starting point from which further program evaluation should be explored. More importantly, it identifies policy implications to modify the existing framework through improved CERP data collection and reporting on reconstruction projects.
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