Conflict & Justice

Millions may be wasted in Afghanistan reconstruction effort: Report


NATO supply trucks drive toward the border terminal in Chaman on July 17, 2012. Pakistan on July 3 decided to reopen overland routes to NATO convoys crossing into Afghanistan, after they were closed following US air strikes that killed 24 soldiers on the Afghan border last November.



A report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has found that a "significant portion" of the $400 million the US government has invested in the country may be wasted, the BBC reported.

The Special Inspector General, the agency responsible for documenting how reconstruction funds are spent, criticized the Pentagon's and State Department's management of projects under the fund, Foreign Policy wrote. The report found that five out of seven infrastructure projects created under the fund have not yet begun, and are likely to be completed at least a year later than their mid-2013 deadline, the New York Times reported.

Significantly, that means it is unlikely the projects will be near completion before NATO troops are set to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014. The NYT, citing the report, noted that the delay could "end up undercutting" the counterinsurgency strategy of the Obama administration. NPR cited the same sentiment in the text of the inspector's report: "Implementing projects that the Afghan government is unable to sustain may be counterproductive to the [counterinsurgency] strategy," it quoted the report as saying.

The report also cited problems with basic planning and execution of projects. "The U.S. Army accepted contract construction that is so poor it prevents some multimillion-dollar border police bases from being used as intended," the report stated.

According to the NYT, the American Embassy and military command in Kabul issued a joint statement challenging the report's conclusions, describing the review process for projects as "rigorous."