That’s $7.3 million from the pocket of the US taxpayer to build a brand new ghost town on the Afghanistan frontier.
Some contractor built that facility. Our military no doubt guarded it while it was being built. That additional cost is probably not even factored into the $7.3 MM. Yet the base now sits empty.
I sure hope none of our soldiers died or were maimed while guarding the construction.
In a recent post we noted that more foreign aid flows into Afghanistan than any other country. Part of that aid appears to be going to build “ghost bases.” Sadly the rest of it probably goes to even worse causes.
Afghanistan has worked out for us about as well as it worked out for the Greeks, Brits, and Soviets. Time to get gone.
The post More War Waste: $7.3 million camp for Afghan police found nearly empty appeared first on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org.
View full post on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org
Unconscionable levels of waste, fraud, and abuse continue to plague America’s 11 year nation-building mission in Afghanistan. According to an investigation by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), officers with the NATO training mission shredded the financial records of fuel purchased for the Afghan National Army. As a result, “the U.S. government still cannot account for $201 million in fuel purchased to support the Afghan National Army.”
On the document destruction, SIGAR investigators determined among its many findings that:
- The two fuel ordering officers cited efficiency, saving physical storage space, and the ability to share document [sic], as factors in the decision to scan and shred the documents. They added that they believed that the scanned documents had been stored electronically on a [Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A)] SharePoint portal or shared drive, but they could not recall the exact locations.
- … CSTC-A was unable to locate any of the missing documents.
A number of other projects underscore the problems U.S. agencies confront in carrying out large-scale development initiatives. For instance, the U.S. military plans to provide electricity via diesel generators to about 2,500 Afghan homes and businesses around Kandahar, according to a report over the summer by the Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran. U.S. government planners expect the program, called the “Kandahar Bridging Solution,” to cost American taxpayers about $220 million through 2013, that is, until the United States Agency for International Development and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers build a new hydropower turbine at a dam in neighboring Helmand.
Washington planners, in keeping with their population-centric counterinsurgency doctrine, assume that many Afghans will be pleased to have power, and thus, will throw their support behind the Afghan central government. Instead, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Kandahar last year, found no evidence that the added electricity was yielding greater support for the government, a conclusion far from surprising. Moreover, Dahl also discovered that the turbine at the dam will provide residents with less power than what they currently get from the generators. As SIGAR noted, “the U.S. government may be building an expectations gap.”
Yet another in a laundry list of dashed expectations may soon be the new $23 million road in Helmand, dashed because the Afghan government has yet to compensate landowners for buildings and property demolished during construction.
The United States continues to expend money and lives for stabilization efforts and infrastructure projects that may still fail to leverage Afghan support for the government. At its heart, that failure lies not only with the mission’s overlapping, redundant, and expensive development strategies, but also with the underlying assumption that when armed with “performance-based contracts” and “metrics to measure achievement,” government bureaucracies can successfully plan such projects.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
U.S. suspends training Afghan police to re-examine recruits
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, Sep. 02 2012
The U.S. military has halted the training of Afghan government-backed militias for at least a month to give the Americans time to redo the vetting of new recruits after a string of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their international allies, officials said Sunday.
There have been 34 insider attacks this year — at least 12 in August alone — that have killed 45 international troops, putting intense strain on the relationship between coalition forces and the Afghans they live and work with. The shootings also have thrown doubts on one of the pillars of the U.S.-led coalition’s planned withdrawal by the end of 2014 — training Afghan forces so they can take the lead for security in the country.
Lieutenant-Colonel John Harrell, a spokesman for U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, said the pause in training affects about 1,000 trainees of the Afghan Local Police, a militia backed by the government in Kabul.
“The training of the ALP recruits has been paused while we go through this re-vetting process, to take a look at this process to see if there’s anything that we can improve,” Lt.-Col. Harrell said. “It may take a month, it may take two months, we don’t know.”
International forces have been re-vetting Afghan forces across the board, but U.S. special operations forces decided to stop training the ones they were responsible for — the 16,000-strong ALP — while redoing the background checks.
Afghan Local Police forces that have already been trained will continue to operate, and the government will continue to recruit new members, Harrell said.
Colonel Tom Collins, a spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan, also said there was no set date for the training of the local police to resume.
The pause in training for the government-backed militias was first reported by the Washington Post.
Lt.-Col. Harrell said the Americans last month also put a two-week pause on operations by the Afghan special forces last month to re-vet those soldiers for any potential ties to insurgents. He did not say whether any suspicious links were uncovered.
The international forces in Afghanistan have been revisiting both security for their forces and re-examining the backgrounds of the Afghan forces in the wake of the recent attacks on international troops.
The Post also reported that training of special operations forces had been halted, but a spokesman for the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, or NTM-A, which oversees this training said there has been no such pause.
“There has been no halt in training with NTM-A assets as they relate to special forces,” said Major Steve Neta of the Canadian military. He also said no other training programs involving the traditional military or police have been halted for re-vetting.
The head of the Afghan special operations forces said there has been no pause to the training of his forces. The program to train Afghan special operations forces had already been on break for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and had been scheduled to restart in mid-September.
“It will continue. It is not ended at all. After the 15th of September we restart,” Brigadier-General Sayed Karim said.
The United States and its allies have been training the Afghan army and police so that they can gradually take over security for the country by the end 2014. They hope to have about 350,000 Afghans trained and ready by the end of the year, and gradually have been putting them in the lead for security in parts of Afghanistan since last year. The U.S.-run ALP project is much smaller and currently has about 16,000 members around the country.
The most recent insider attack took place last week when an Afghan army soldier turned his gun on Australian soldiers, killing three of them and wounding two more in Uruzgan province, according to the Australian military.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office condemned an operation by international troops to catch the shooter, describing it as unilateral and saying it resulted in the deaths of a 70-year-old man his 30-year-old son.
Mr. Karzai’s office said in a statement late Saturday that the operation took place without the coordination or approval of provincial authorities and violated an agreement that calls on Afghan troops to lead night raids.
The U.S.-led international coalition responded by saying that Afghan officials approved and supported the strike.
In a related incident, NATO said it arrested a Taliban insurgent who was responsible for the May 12 shooting of two members of the British military in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in the south.
At the time the man was a member of the Afghan police. An accomplice was shot and killed at the scene. The man, who was not further identified, was arrested along with another suspected insurgent on Aug. 30 in the Hisarak district of eastern Nangarhar province.
Prior to the two most recent attacks, coalition authorities said they believed that 25 per cent of this year’s attacks had confirmed or suspected links to the Taliban, which sometimes has infiltrated the ranks of the Afghan army and police and in other cases is believed to have coerced or otherwise persuaded legitimate members of the Afghan forces to turn on their coalition partners.
Also Sunday, seven people were killed in an apparent clash between rival tribal leaders in eastern Kunduz province. The violence broke out when gunmen from one village killed the brother-in-law of a tribal leader in another, said Sarwar Husseini, spokesman for the provincial police chief.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Sep 02, 2012 8:24 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Afghan war whistleblower Daniel Davis: ‘I had to speak out – lives are at stake’
Soldier wrote detailed report claiming US generals ‘have so distorted the truth … the truth has become unrecognisable’
Paul Harris in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 14 April 2012 11.20 BST
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis claims US generals are lying to the public about the military campaign in Afghanistan. Photograph: Observer
"I am – how do you say it? – persona non grata," said Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Davis, as he sat sipping a coffee and eating a chocolate sundae in a shopping mall, just a subway stop from the Pentagon.
The career soldier is now a black sheep at the giant defence department building where he still works. The reason was his extraordinarily brave decision to accuse America’s military top brass of lying about the war in Afghanistan. When he went public in the New York Times, he was acclaimed as a hero for speaking out about a war that many Americans feel has gone horribly awry. Later this month he will receive a Ridenhour prize, an award given to whistleblowers that is named after the Vietnam war soldier who exposed the My Lai massacre.
Davis believes people are not being told the truth and said so in a detailed report that he wrote after returning from his second tour of duty in the country. He had been rocketed, mortared and had stepped on an improvised explosive device that failed to explode. Soldiers he had met were killed and he was certain that a bloody disaster was unfolding. So he spoke out. "It’s like I see in slow motion men dying for nothing and I can’t stop it," he said. "It is consuming me from the inside. It is eating me alive."
Davis, 48, drew up two reports containing research and observations garnered from his last tour. He was not short of material. As part of his job he had criss-crossed the country, travelling 9,000 miles and talking to more than 250 people. He had built up a picture of a hopeless cause; a country where Afghan soldiers were incapable of holding on to American gains. US soldiers would fight and die for territory and then see Afghan troops let it fall to the Taliban. Often the Afghans actively worked with the Taliban or simply refused to fight. One Afghan police officer laughed in Davis’s face when asked if he ever tried to fight the enemy. "That would be dangerous!" the man said.
Yet at the same time Davis saw America’s military chiefs, such as General David Petraeus, constantly speak about America’s successes, especially when working with local troops. So Davis compiled two reports: one classified and one unclassified. He sent both to politicians in Washington and lobbied them on his concerns. Then in February he went public by giving an interview to the New York Times and writing a damning editorial in a military newspaper. Then – and only then – did he tell his own army bosses what he had done.
Davis pulled no punches. His report’s opening statement read: "Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognisable."
The report detailed an alarming picture of Taliban advances and spiralling violence. Afghan security forces were unwilling or unable to fight, or actively aiding the enemy. That picture was contrasted with repeated rosy statements from US military leaders. His classified version was far more damning, but it remains a secret. "I am no WikiLeaks guy part two," Davis said. He foresees a simple and logical end point for Afghanistan – civil war and societal collapse, probably long before the last US combat soldier is scheduled to leave. He says the Afghan army and police simply cannot cope and the US forces training and working with them know that, despite official pronouncements to the contrary. "What I saw first hand in virtually every circumstance was a barely functioning organisation often co-operating with the insurgent enemy," Davis’s report said.
The document was also damning about the role of the US media in reporting the war. Ever since Vietnam, generals have slammed the press as a potential danger to military operations, but Davis’s report lambasted journalists for failing to question the official army line. He said the media were obsessed with getting "access" to military bases and generals and tempered reporting in order to maintain that situation. "Most of the media just takes the talking points and repeats them," he said.
Davis has not been officially sanctioned – because his classified report remains secret, he broke no law – and the military has not set out actively to condemn him. Instead there has been a muted official response, while privately, Davis said, many colleagues have congratulated him for speaking out. Yet he is now experiencing a strange end to a military career to which he devoted his life. It included serving in Germany, both Iraq wars and then two tours in Afghanistan. He said it gave him pride and a sense of purpose in doing a greater good.
"I loved the army. There was nothing I have ever wanted to do more than this job since I started as a private back in 1985," he said. That is a very all-American sentiment, but then so is Davis’s background. He was born the son of a football coach and grew up in Dallas, Texas. He is a born-again Christian who sings in a church choir. He said the decision to go public involved heavy "soul-searching".
It has also made any future career advancement highly unlikely. "Maybe no one will listen, but I would not be able to sleep if I made no attempt," he said.
What Davis wants – and what several politicians are lobbying for – are congressional hearings on the issue. He wants the generals grilled on his report and on how their comments compare with the evidence. But that needs the support of party leaders such as Democratic senator Harry Reid or Republican House speaker John Boehner, and that seems unlikely because such hearings would be a political minefield.
This only serves to infuriate Davis. "Wouldn’t you want to know the truth when you are making a war-and-peace decision?" Does he have any regrets? "There has never been a fraction of a question as to whether I did the right thing," he said. "Lives are at stake."
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:09 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Afghans: U.S. soldier burns 11 bodies
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:00 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Flashback to May 2009: Media Ignored U.S. Military Burning Bibles to Appease Afghans
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:46 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
On Afghan Child Brides, Drug Lords and Chatting With One Insanely Courageous Reporter
Reporting in Afghanistan is pretty hairy these days. Reporting outside “the Kabul bubble” is positively dangerous. But what can I say about a blonde, Afghan-American female journalist reporting – sometimes undercover – across the country, including the southern Pashtun badlands, trying to interview drug lords, mules, lackeys and hostile Pashtun patriarchs in one of the world’s most hostile regions?
Well, I can say she’s audacious. I can also tell you that she had me very worried sometimes.
Meet my dear friend Fariba Nawa, author of the newly released book, “Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan” (Perennial/Harper Collins).
When it comes to the multibillion dollar Afghan drug business, there are plenty of statistics and reports and experts expounding about this subject. If you’re lucky, you get the odd footage of some security official slashing poppy fields. If you’re really lucky, you may even get the odd quote from a sullen Afghan farmer about his livelihood destroyed.
What makes Fariba’s book so gripping – and important – are the very real characters, the human stories in this business, including the people who are enriched by drugs as well as those ensnared by it.
To get the story though, Faribe went through some pretty harrowing and dangerous experiences.
I remember one particular incident, when I reached Fariba on her satellite phone back in 2005 when she was in southern Afghanistan.
Before setting off from Kabul, Fariba had sought my advice about a man who was going to be her local guide in Helmand, a drug-infested southern Afghan province that has seen some of the worst fighting in recent years.
Fariba wasn’t sure if she could trust this guy and wondering what to do.
This is a very tricky business in this business. Fixers, local guides and translators are critical in conflict zones – a matter of life and death, at times. If you’re a woman – and especially a female reporter in Afghanistan – they often function as de facto security men. A good local fixer from the right family, tribe or sub-tribe with a cell phone full of contacts is honestly the best reporting tool in the field.
Fariba, who was born in Afghanistan and speaks excellent Dari, doesn’t need anyone to tell her this.
So, when she called to tell me about her doubts about this guide – who was a relative of a friend – I was thrown off-guard.
When it comes to Afghanistan, I’m the one constantly calling Fariba for contacts, translations and advice. Afghanistan is her homeland, she’s the queen in these parts. What could I possibly tell her about reporting in Afghanistan that she didn’t already know?
I offered her the one lousy piece of advice I give all my friends setting off on a dangerous reporting mission: if you feel it’s too dangerous, trust your gut and don’t be afraid to admit you’re scared.
But who listens to me? Fariba of course decided to go for it in the end.
So, she duly left Kabul and headed to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, from where she was to hire a car to Helmand.
But our conversation troubled me enough to make that call, back in 2005, just to check-in.
The call, unfortunately, did nothing to allay my anxieties.
When I reached her on the sat phone, Fariba was whispering into her earpiece, I could barely hear her. It wasn’t because the connection was bad. It was because she didn’t want to be heard speaking English.
Mind you she wasn’t on the road, she was in the Kandahar offices of an Afghan NGO, where she was staying before leaving for Helmand.
Cripes, I thought. If she doesn’t feel safe enough to talk in the premises of an NGO office, what’s going to happen when she leaves Kandahar for rural Helmand?
Fariba was going to Helmand in search of one of the characters in her book, a feisty little Afghan girl who was bartered to be married to a man 34 years older than her as a payment for an opium debt.
But that’s enough from me. I’m not going to give away the story. You’ll have the read the book for that…
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:27 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com