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The Monetary Cost of War In Afghanistan

war in afghanistan

By Debbie Gregory.

By some estimates, the war in Afghanistan has cost the U.S. somewhere between $841 billion and $1 trillion. And that doesn’t take in to consideration the human toll on those who have served and their loved ones.

The number is sure to rise, given than although President Trump has said the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan was “not a blank check,” his decision to send more troops will add billions of dollars a year to the already-towering war costs.

Linda J. Bilmes, a faculty member at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Anthony Cordesman, a military strategy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies agree that the costs of the wars are 20 times or more greater than initial estimates by members of the Bush administration.

But has it been money well spent?

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) was created by congress to provide independent and objective oversight of Afghanistan reconstruction projects and activities. SIGAR conducts audits and investigations to promote efficiency and effectiveness of reconstruction programs and to detect/prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

Recent audits revealed that: the Department of Defense spent $457.7 Million on intelligence capacity-building programs, but the impact could not be fully assessed due to a lack of performance metrics; $27.2 million was spent on “questioned costs” across all U.S.-funded Afghan reconstruction contracts, a classification that encompasses “incorrect employee payments and miscalculations of travel costs, exceeding maximum budgets without prior approval, and insufficient documentation to support project expenses”; of the $8 million obligated to bring Sesame Street to Afghan TV networks, more than half a million simply disappeared; although $16.1 million was budgeted to renovate Afghanistan’s largest prison, the job was only half finished, and ended up costing $20.2 million; and last, but not least, $94 million was spent on woodland camouflage uniforms for local forces in a country that’s only 2.1% forests. It turns out that the decision was made by then-Afghanistan Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak, who picked the uniform he liked off of a website.

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Military Connection: Audit Slams Army Officers for Waste

leatherneckBy 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