Tag Archives: Afghanistan Reconstruction

Reality Check: Millions Wasted ‘Rebuilding’ Afghanistan

Seventeen years of wasted taxpayer money and government mismanagement: millions of U.S. dollars spent on projects to rebuild Afghanistan that have not helped the Afghan people.

In some cases, these projects actually put Afghans in danger.

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

A new report shows that the U.S. has spent some $60 million on building totally useless power lines in Afghanistan. The effort, overseen by the army corps of engineers, was intended to help rebuild the country.

As we reported at TruthInMedia.com, the $60 million spent is just part of a $116 million project that was plagued from the start.

Back in 2013, the U.S. army corps of engineers awarded an Afghan company $116 million to design and build phases two and three of the north east power system, or NEPS, in Afghanistan. According to the report, published by SIGAR, or the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the $60 million spent on a power transmission project is, quote, “not operational.”

Not operational, because the contract was poorly written. The afghan government was supposed to buy land in the path of the project, allowing the contractor to build phase. They didn’t, and yet the U.S. army corps of engineers gave the contractor clearances to move ahead with construction.

The result? Power lines built through privately held land, some over residential homes, causing real estate disputes. And there’s more.

The contractor’s approved plans did not include connecting the power transmission project to the power source. The army corps of engineers approved a submittal for a temporary connection, but those plans didn’t match the configuration of the power source. So there’s no way to test, let alone go live, with the project.

If the contractors can’t get the plans right, what about the construction of the project?

Well, according to the report, the project’s power towers foundations are already crumbling. Plus, they were built in loose soil, on embankments that are likely to erode. Near where people live.

So that’s $60 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars wasted on a non-operational project. But this isn’t the first time SIGAR has released troubling reports of government waste.

According to TruthInMedia.com, our government spent $160 million on a failed electronic payment system for the afghan government to collect taxes. SIGAR also identified $93 million spent on “forest” camouflage gear for Afghan troops, when there are very few forests in the country.

The irony here: the USAID published a video in 2011 promoting the NEPS project as a way to create efficiency and reduce cost.

What you need to know is that in the 17 years of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, it’s estimated that our government’s reconstruction effort has cost taxpayers $1 trillion. And the occupation continues.

President Trump authorized a troop surge in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of U.S. military there to 14,000. And that’s just military.

So if our government is willing to waste your tax dollars, endanger people halfway across the globe and put our service men and women at risk, to “create efficiency and reduce cost,” what exactly are they doing for us?

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that, right now, on Facebook and Twitter.

Feds Reportedly Spent $43 Million Building One Gas Station

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2015– According to a top government watchdog, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) spent $43 million to build a single gas station in Afghanistan that should have cost about $500,000. The top oversight team analyzing U.S. spending in Afghanistan reportedly discovered the amount as part of a larger investigation into allegations of criminal activity within the DOD’s premiere program to kick-start the Afghan economy.

“I have never in my lifetime seen the Department of Defense or any government agency clam up and claim they don’t know anything about a program,” said special inspector general John Sopko, a former federal prosecutor appointed by President Obama in 2012 to keep watch over spending in Afghanistan.

Sopko wants to know who approved the funding and why, but no one appears to want to speak up within the federal government.

“Who’s in charge? Why won’t they talk?” asked Sopko. “We have received more allegations about this program than we have received about any other program in Afghanistan.”

At the center of the controversy is the Task Force for Stability and Business Operations (TFBSO). Although the task force ended in March 2015, the damage has already been done. According to Sopko, the DOD’s failure to answer questions about the $800 million program, as well as its claim the task force’s employees no longer work for the DOD, is of major concern.

In an Oct. 22 letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Sopko asked why no one at the DOD could speak about the $800 million TFBSO program, which had reported directly to Carter.

“Frankly, I find it both shocking and incredible that DOD asserts that it no longer has any knowledge about TFBSO, an $800 million program that reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and only shut down a little over six months ago,” Sopko wrote. “Nevertheless, I intend to continue our inquiry.”

While the DOD maintains no one knows anything, Joseph Catalino, the former head of the TFBSO, is still employed by the Defense Department in a senior role.

“There’s few things in this job that literally make my jaw drop,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in a statement to Fox News, “but of all the examples of wasteful projects in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Pentagon began prior to our wartime contracting reforms, this genuinely shocked me.”

FOLLOW MICHAEL LOTFI ON Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Inspector General Calls US Effort to Rebuild Afghanistan an “Abysmal Failure”

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko is an investigator charged with auditing and reporting to Congress on US government spending in Afghanistan in an effort to prevent waste and fraud. On Tuesday, he discussed his latest findings with reporters and painted a pessimistic picture of how funds have been used to date. According to Military Times, Sopko said that recent efforts to boost the Afghan economy, which have already cost American taxpayers upwards of $700 million, “accomplished nothing.” He also called the overall reconstruction effort, on which the US has already spent $120 billion, an “abysmal failure.”

“This is the most money we have spent on reconstruction of a single country in the history of our republic. Shouldn’t it have been better?” said Sopko.

He blamed the failure on a lack of leadership and described the reconstruction effort as a disorganized free-for-all. Stars and Stripes quoted Sopko as saying, “It seems like no one is responsible for anything in Afghanistan except to get the money out… When you go to Afghanistan and you talk to the people in the US Embassy, I don’t see anybody in charge on developing the economy… There are people who work on it… but there is nobody who is tasked with saying, ‘Your job is to work with the Afghans and make certain they get a viable economy. And if you don’t succeed, you will be held accountable.'”

Examples of the failures include a $34 million US-built base that will likely have to be demolished due to a variety of planning errors including the installation of power outlets that run on the US voltage standard, which is incompatible with power utilities in Afghanistan, and a mishap in which the Department of Defense spent over $400 million building 16 airplanes for the Afghan government only to sell them for scrap to a local contractor in Afghanistan for $32,000 without putting them to their intended use.

Sopko also announced that his office is launching a formal investigation into the DOD’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, which is charged with promoting industrial development in Afghanistan and has been accused of mismanagement. He indicated that questions have been raised as to “whether [the task force] should have existed.”

“I have not found anybody who’s lost a job for screwing up — and there have been a lot of screw-ups in Afghanistan,” said Sopko about the overall lack of accountability in the US effort to rebuild Afghanistan.

John Sopko also pointed out the fact that the Afghan government, which receives 90% of its funding from outside sources like the US, does not have the ability to maintain the infrastructure that the US is providing for it. He said, “When you go into a country like Afghanistan, you should to take into account what the government and the economy is faced with, and you should take into account — unless you want to create a client state for X number of years — how do you develop a sustainable economy? And we have not seen that.”

He suggested that US-led efforts to boost Afghanistan’s economy and strengthen its government can only work if taxpayers continue funding it on an ongoing basis. Said Sopko, “they can’t afford the government we’ve given them, and if our intended goal was a government that would keep or kick the terrorists out, we’re going to have to fund it.”