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article imageNo accounting for funds of $1.3 billion sent to Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     Apr 24, 2015 in World
Kabul - The Pentagon is unable to account for $1.3 billion in funds sent to commanders in Afghanistan through the years 2004 to 2014 for reconstruction projects.
These funds were sent to military commanders in order to bypass bureaucracy to speed up construction of badly needed infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and water treatment facilities. The $1.3 billion for which there is no account represents about 60 percent of funds allocated to the program. About 70 percent of the $100 billion the US has spent during its 13.5 years in aid to Afghanistan has gone through the Pentagon with the remainder distributed through the US Agency for International Development(USAID) and other civilian departments.
John Sopko, the US special investigator general for Afghan reconstruction (SIGAR), spent a year studying the $2.26 billion spent on the Commander's Emergency Response Program(CERP). Sopko's report said: "In reviewing this data, SIGAR found that the Department of Defense could only provide financial information relating to the disbursement of funds for CERP projects totaling $890 million (40 percent) of the approximately $2.2 billion in obligated funds at that time,"
The report analyzed the expenditures under 20 categories such as, transportation, water and sanitation, health care, education, etc. However, there was an added category called "unknown" that contained 5,163 projects while all the other categories together came only to 4,494 projects. The Pentagon so far has not commented on the SIGAR findings.
US Central Command, the overseer of military operations in Afghanistan as well as many other countries said that some of the money could have been redirected to other more urgent military requirements such as counterinsurgency. In a Feb. 25 email to Sopko's office Central Command said: “Although the (inspector general’s) report is technically accurate, it did not discuss the counterinsurgency strategies in relationship to CERP, In addition (to) the 20 uses of CERP funds, it was also used as a tool for counterinsurgency.” This comment hardly explains why money set aside for emergency reconstruction had to be used for counter insurgency. The bulk of the approximately $800 billion spent on the Afghan war was for military needs. "Counterinsurgency" is just not one of the 20 defined categories under this emergency response program.
Almost half of the funds under the CERP program were spent in just two provinces, Kandahar, and Helmand two areas with the most Taliban activities and bloodiest battles. Almost a third of the funds, $289 million were spent in Kandahar. Since being established in 2008, SIGAR has issued dozens of reports documenting how billions in aid has been lost through waste or corruption. One report found that tens of thousands of surplus AK-47 assault weapons and other weapons shipped to Afghanistan had simply disappeared. Another report found that the US continued to give Afghan security forces a planned $1.4 billion for gasoline purchases even though evidence showed that some of the money had been siphoned off for other unexplained uses.
More about Afghan reconstruction aid, Pentagon, Usaid
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