By Debbie Gregory.
Wasteful spending by the government is nothing new in the United States. Who could forget the Pentagon’s infamous $640 toilet seats, $436 hammers, and $7,600 coffee makers of the 1980s? Now, in a recently released audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the government’s Afghanistan spending watchdog has recommended that three senior Army officers be disciplined for their role in the construction of a $36 million sprawling command center at Camp Leatherneck. The command center in Afghanistan has never been used!
The audit alleges that the officers pushed for the project, even though there were objections from commanders in the field. At the time, then-Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills said the 64,000 square-foot command and control center wasn’t necessary, and asked that it not be built. Maj. Gen. Peter Vangjel, who was the deputy commander of U.S. Army Central, decided to build it anyway.
The audit also suggested “appropriate administrative or disciplinary action” for Maj. Gen. James Richardson for “his failure to carry out a fulsome investigation” into matter in 2013, when he concluded that no one should be held responsible. It had the same suggestion for Col. Norman Allen, finding he had attempted to “discourage full cooperation” with the report when he told Army officials to “slow roll” the probe in what auditor’s said was an attempt to interfere with their work
According to the audit report, the building was 98 percent complete in April 2013, with construction still ongoing. It was never used by U.S. forces; Camp Leatherneck was turned over to the Afghan government in October 2014. When auditors visited, plastic sheets still covered the never-used furniture.
This is one of the most outrageous, deliberate, and wasteful misuses of taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan we’ve ever seen,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the top-ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
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Military Connection: Audit Slams Army Officers for Waste: By Debbie Gregory