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Half A Marshall Plan, Wasted In Afghanistan

Posted by The Agonist on July 30th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

The new SIGAR quarterly report on Afghanistan (PDF) is out and it makes anything but encouraging reading. The report notes that “If Congress approves the President’s current request for new reconstruction funding, the United States will have provided nearly $100 billion to rebuilding Afghanistan since 2002…The United States has never provided so much funding over a similar period of time to rebuild another country: for example, U.S. reconstruction aid to Germany after World War II (1946–1952) amounted to less than $35 billion in 2011 dollars.” It then goes on to state that ANSF numbers are down, not up, with no clear reason why that should be so; that corruption, bribery and graft are rife among not just Afghans but Americans involved in reconstruction efforts too; and that “a decade of struggle and bloodshed…has not cleared the landscape of serious problems.”

It’s been just less than a year since the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan report said at least one in six dollars was being wasted in Afghanistan and things don’t seem to have gotten better. If anything, they’re worse. Among the SIGAR report’s findings:

- That three years after inception, none of USAID’s Afghanistan Stabilization Initiative-East projects have “have advanced from the ‘hold’ to the ‘build’ phase of that strategy, and an exit strategy remains to be developed,” and the projects involved “more than $590,000 in questionable program costs”.

- Five of seven Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund projects are 6 to 15 months behind schedule and “most projects will not achieve desired COIN benefits for several years.” Indeed, some projects “may even result in adverse COIN effects because they create an expectations-versus-reality gap in the affected population or because they lack citizen support.”

- Four police bases built for the ANSF at U.S. cost, an investment of $19 million, were “either unoccupied or not used for their intended purposes” because of deficient construction. “These problems included the lack of a viable water supply, a poorly constructed septic system, and inadequate sewage. Other deficiencies included leaking fuel lines, unconnected drain pipes, poorly built guard towers, and improperly installed heating and ventilation systems.” The problems have gone uncorrected “because neither the contractor nor USACE has effective quality assurance processes in place.”

Deja vu of the infamously corrupt and poorly overseen process of papering over the cracks in Iraq? You betcha. As the friend who sent the report along to me writes: the report “details a now familiar theme of US occupation and the putative efforts at ‘reconstruction,’ which appears now, and has appeared for years, as nothing but a taxpayer money funnel to private contractors with no expectation of any substantive result. In effect, DoD contracting in foreign occupied lands functions a nothing more than a gift to contractors, a profitable and unaccountable transfer of wealth from the public purse to the privateer.”

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