Photo Note: Photo via Stripes. Also? Note the smiles. Those won’t last long.
File this under “One has to be glad not to be this guy”: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko. Any Inspector General (IG) job is painful, but in times like these, a job like Sopko’s is especially…onerous. (See, I learned a big boy word today…so I’m using it.) Stars and Stripes’ Heath Druzin sat down with the SIGAR for an interview. Well worth the read, especially for statements like this:
I hate to pick on the Afghan government, but it has been identified by other people as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Ahem. Attention white people in Afghanistan: you’re just as much to blame as the Afghan government for its current state of corruption. Your poor oversight, lack of planning, and lack of coordination of effort created the kind of accountability vacuum into which stepped smart people used to doing what they need to do in order to survive.
That is all.
The interview didn’t have the space to cover questions about military spending directly, although that’s definitely covered in the bullet points in the graphics. Such as:
• Records related to fuel purchases for Afghan security forces vehicles, a program expected to eventually cost taxpayers more than $4 billion, were missing and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan had inaccurate and incomplete data on the contract as well as no way to account for fuel that was lost or spilled. The command was also criticized for making payments without verifying fuel delivery.
• Afghans may be unable to maintain a $17.7 million Afghan National Police headquarters in Kunduz province. The project also incurred a $5 million cost overrun and a 10-month delay because of inadequate consideration of the site’s soil.
• $12.8 million in Defense Department-purchased equipment is sitting unused because the Afghan national utility is unable to install it. The SIGAR found the contract for the equipment was approved without a plan for installation.
Such is not the case for the SIGAR’s quarterly report, released in January of this year. In that report, even the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP…also known as “Spend It ‘Cuz You’ve Got It) comes under fire, noting, for example, this on page 9 of the report:
SIGAR’s audit (Audit 11-7) of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, or CERP, spending in Laghman Province concluded that all $44.6 million of asphalt roads built there were “at risk due to the lack of maintenance plans.”
So you built nearly $45m in roads. That…is an awesome Officer Evaluation Report (OER) bullet. For those of you who have no idea what that is, don’t feel bad. The Army really doesn’t either. In theory, the OER is supposed to demonstrate how well you’ve done during a particular reporting period. In reality, the OER is the place where most commanders put down (since we’re reconstructing shit and all) how much money they spent doing…reconstruction.
Other people much smarter than me have analyzed CERP already. And at some point I’ll have to reference them and their smartness in a future post. But for now, let this suffice: on the whole, CERP was a bad idea implemented poorly. Utilizing King David’s maxim that “money is a weapons system,” well, commanders done spent the money.
You know what’s also a weapons system? The F-35. It’s called the “Lightning II.” You know what it’s especially vulnerable to while in flight? Lightning strikes.
The production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the world’s most sophisticated and expensive combat aircraft – has been derailed after engineers discovered that the jet’s fuel tank could explode if struck by lightning.
I say that to say this: just because you’re at war, and you have a weapons system, does NOT mean that you have to use that weapons system.
The point of the blog this week is to (hopefully) shed a little more light on US spending in Afghanistan by the Department of Defense in the name of “aid.” CERP is notoriously murky since, well, troops. And heroes. So we don’t want to endanger the good name of the troops by implying that they ever did anything but an amazeballs job dipped in awesome sauce.
See “OER bullet” earlier.
And you stay sunny, folks.
- US Aid Dollars Spent in Afghanistan: Infographic (republicofsnarkistan.net)
- It’s Electric: Afghans Triumph Despite All Our Efforts (republicofsnarkistan.net)
- Commentary: Close but no SIGAR — yet (upi.com)
- Project On Government Oversight: Should SIGAR Have Suspension and Debarment Power? (huffingtonpost.com)