Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Report: U.S. has lost $360M to insurgents and drug lords in Afghanistan

Think about how monumentally inept such a "blunder" would have to be. How do you lose over a quarter of a billion dollars to your supposed enemy? Don't think about it too much. Go outside and fly your flag and berate people who don't "support" the troops.

    Politico -

    The U.S. military has lost $360 million intended for combat and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan to the Taliban, criminals and local leaders during nearly a decade on the ground there.

    A task force assembled last year by Gen. David Petraeus, then the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan and now the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, tallied the diversion of funds as part of a broader assessment of the war effort, The Associated Press reported Tuesday, after obtaining details of the report.Putting a dollar figure on the widely acknowledged difficulties that the United States and its partners have had in battling corruption, Task Force 2010 worked to untangle the ties among companies, their subcontractors, and the insurgents and criminals — “malign actors” — with whom they did business.

    The transactions among the various parties amount to what the task force called “reverse money laundering.” As described by the AP, in the “murky” process payments from the United States go from military contractors to businesses and individuals with links to the Taliban or criminal networks.

    “Funds begin as clean monies,” a task force document obtained by the AP said, and, “either through direct payments or through the flow of funds in the subcontractor network, the monies become tainted.”

    In all, the money lost represents a small percentage of the $31 billion in U.S. contracts that the task force examined in its work. Even so, the losses reflect challenges the Obama administration faces as it works to turn control of the country over to the Afghan people.

    Just a small percentage of the $360 million has gone to the Taliban and insurgent groups, a senior U.S. military official in Kabul told the AP, while most has been lost to profiteering, bribery and extortion.

    The official did not offer a detailed breakdown of where the money went but did say that more than $180 million that the task force saw siphoned off went to a transportation contract called Host Nation Trucking. Eight companies worked as primary contractors on the effort and hired close to three dozen subcontractors to supply vehicles and security to help ship food, water, fuel and ammunition to U.S. troops across the country.

    On Monday, the Pentagon announced that it had chosen 20 contractors for a new $983.5 million contract, National Afghan Trucking Services, to replace Host Nation Trucking. The new program reduces reliance on subcontractors and gives the military access to a larger number of potential contractors, the AP said.

    The Pentagon did not offer a list of the companies it had chosen, but a senior defense official told the AP that none were among the eight companies involved in the Host Nation Trucking contract.