Corruption is as old as the human history and has its root since the first dynasty of Egypt (3100-2700 B.C.) in its judiciary systems to the Ancient Greek dating back to 1400 B.C. when Oracle of Delphi priestess was bribed by Alcmaeonid dynasty to convince Sparta to wage war with them onto Athens in which they were victorious it was noted by Greek historian and the father of History Herodotus. Since, it worked and they ruled Athens, Aristotle noted that even gods can be bribed.
After analyzing the number of military personnel, military expenditure and arms imports using the panel data of all available counties by John Hudson and Philip Jones in 2008. There is evidence of economies of scale and existence of ‘Ghost Soldiers’. Who are the ghost soldiers? The ghost soldiers or ghost battalions are names appearing on military roles but are not present in military service, generally in order to divert soldiers’ salaries to an influential entity that is army officers and others. There is equal benefit for these soldiers from this corruption scheme as they are given marginal salaries and are being told to go back to civil lives and their occupations. Though this practice weakens the military and can result in major defeat and military offensives in a war. Ghost soldiers are made up of fake names or the deserted soldiers or even the names of soldiers who had died earlier in the war but were never declared dead on official papers.
In the Vietnam War, some officers of Army of Republic of Vietnam retained soldiers who had been killed or deserted on their roles as “ghost soldiers “. As units were allocated a set amount of rice for each soldier monthly, this allowed the officers to sell the excess rice for their personal profit. AVRN officers sometimes also stole the pay of non-existent soldiers. This led to over-estimation of the size of the army.
During the period of First and Second Chechen War in the Caucasus and the period of time between both the wars, there were several reports of soldiers enlisted on the payroll who either did not exist or had been deserted from their military duty, while the officers filled their pockets from their pay. There were reports of conscripts not being paid at all and forced to work as slaves for their commanding officers, while officers enjoyed the pay.
In the study of Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), the estimated ghost soldiers were 30% of its force. Efforts to launch anti-corruption investigation by Inspector General of Government of The UPDF were denied “because sizeable amounts from military procurement and the phenomenon of ghost soldiers were provided for building political support for the President Yoweri Museveni
The presence of ghost soldiers and ghost battalions have been cited as the reasons for chain of rapid and disastrous collapse and defeats taken by Iraqi army against the ISIS in 2013-2014 conflicts and offenses. Cases of army officers and soldiers splitting the salary among to not to show to the barracks and work and training. The soldiers were allowed to go to back to civil occupation and lives but on condition of returning after a period of time to renew various certificates and attendance. They were also allowed to retire after 10-year service of “ghost soldiers”
In 2016, 40% of the Afghan soldiers posted in Helmand province were found and declared as “ghost soldiers”, In a report presented by SIGAR of U.S, they claimed neither the U.S and nor its Afghan allies know how many Afghan Soldiers and Police actually exists. In fact, they didn’t know how many are available for duties and or by extension, their true nature of operational capabilities. In the province oh Helmand, one of its bases had 100 soldiers and 50 were to go back home as they were ghost soldiers in order for officers to secure their income. In another base of 300 soldiers when it got attacked only 15 were present. In early 2019, 42,000 soldiers were dismissed as they were ghost soldiers. Before the takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban, there were 300,000 soldiers reported in the army but that was nothing but all just a lie so the Afghan army officers could fill up their pockets and then the way the country fell with a little resistance or not at all in many of its provinces within just a week of invasion, this may all because the numerous lies to hide the corruption and the failures and all those ghost soldiers present on papers.
Well, centuries ago when Aristotle has noted that even the gods can be bribed, who are the men to resist and only innocent civilians are remained there to pay for such heinous crimes.