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Inspector General John F. Sopko completes inaugural tour of SIGAR facilities in Afghanistan, meets top U.S. and Coalition officials.
Special Inspector General John F. Sopko completes inaugural tour of SIGAR facilities in Afghanistan, meets top U.S. and Coalition officials.
Half a billion dollars has gone missing or unaccounted for in Afghanistan. The money was to purchase and deliver fuel for the Afghan National Army.

Two years ago, in Warlord Inc., Rep. John F. Tierney (D-MA) was sobered and shocked to report on how fuel and supply delivery worked in Afghanistan:

The findings of this report range from sobering to shocking.

Warlord, Inc., House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security.

But two years later, on the same issue, and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan is now merely concerned:
However, we are concerned that CSTC‐A does not have
  1. a valid method for estimating fuel needs on which to base the funding requests or
  2. complete records on ANA fuel purchased, delivered, and consumed.
Consequently, unless funding levels based on accurate ANA fuel requirements are developed and effective controls instituted prior to the transition date, both ANA fuel and ASFF funds will be vulnerable to theft and waste.

Interim Report on Afghan Nation Army Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Financial records for half a billion dollars have been shredded in Afghanistan. The records covered purchase and delivery of fuel for the Afghan National Army:
 
During the conduct of this audit, ATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command- Afghanistan (CSTC-A) informed us that its officials shredded all ANA POL financial records related to payments totaling nearly $475 million from October 2006 to February 2011.

Destruction of OEF Financial Documents Related to ANA POL Audit (code 054A), Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

The documents having been shredded, the Special Inspector General would now like to reiterate the importance of not shredding documents:
SIGAR would like to reiterate the importance of retaining all financial records given the importance of accountability, transparency, and oversight.
So, how does half a billion dollars go missing in Afghanistan? Why were those documents destroyed? Why is the Special Inspector General so concerned?

Or, how does America fuel corruption in Afghanistan? And how close is the relation between the corruptors and the corrupted?

Follow after the great orange ball of fire.

Fuel tanker, Nangarhar.
The logistics business is one of the most lucrative yet murkiest aspects of international security operations in Afghanistan. Involving backroom dealings and hundreds of millions of dollars, the stakes are high, as is the alleged involvement of the Afghan political elite.

Logistic Fortunes of War, Afghanistan Today

A bomb planted by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan has destroyed 22 Nato fuel tankers carrying supplies to coalition forces.
Cargo movement in Afghanistan became a contract operation with private security forces. These cargo movement operations paid off the ANP, ANB, and often insurgents – helping to create legal and illegal checkpoints along most Afghan roads.

How America Corrupted Afghanistan, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Afghan firefighters try to extinguish burning trucks reportedly carrying oil for NATO forces, after an attack Wednesday by suspected Taliban militants in Samangan province, Afghanistan.
This arrangement has fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others.

Warlord, Inc., House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security.

The [Warlord Inc.] report states that military officers in Kabul had little idea whom the trucking companies were paying to provide security or how much they spent for it, and had rarely if ever inspected a convoy to find out.

The report recommends that the military award the trucking contracts and security contracts separately.

It also lists a number of warlords who control stretches of road in Afghanistan: Ruhullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name, has a reputation for dealing ruthlessly with the villages along the highways he controls; Matiulllah Khan, whose 2,000-man militia controls the road between Kandahar and Tirinkot; and Abdul Razziq, the commander of the border police in Spin Boldak, one of the principal trucking routes into the country.

U.S. Said to Fund Afghan Warlords to Protect Convoys, New York Times

“There is no single approach for securing convoys, it varies,” said a company owner. “In some secure areas, no one is paid protection money because companies have shareholders and allies who are warlords, which ensures the convoys safely reach their destinations. In other areas, people use private security companies that have links with the Taliban, and they pay them not to touch the loads.”

Logistic Fortunes of War, Afghanistan Today

Black smoke rises from burning NATO trucks in Samangan province.
Most Afghans believe that corruption begins at the very top: “[T]he officials at the highest levels at the political system like ministers and governors are corrupt. Because each of the government officials is part of the network, everyone is silent.

Afghan Corruption—The Greatest Obstacle to Victory in Operation Enduring Freedom, Georgetown Journal of International Law

At least 50 people have been killed or wounded in bombing of a fuel truck, apparently belonging to US-led troops in Afghanistan, in the country's northern province of Parwan, an Afghan official says.
Hamid Karzai’s younger half-brother, the late Ahmed Wali Karzai, once consolidated his power by acting as both the powerful chairman of Kandahar’s provincial council and by relying on a mafialike network of militias that made millions of dollars by bribing security companies that benefited from contracts escorting NATO convoys.

Afghanistan's Corruption Breeds Failure, Washington Times

An Afghan army soldier secures a road as a fuel truck burns outside Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009. A supply convoy of NATO and coalition forces was attacked by militants near Jalalabad city, two of the tankers were set on fire and three others damaged.
The newly dismissed defence minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, who was sacked by Parliament this month, has been accused of channeling lucrative NATO trucking contracts to his son, a charge he has strenuously denied.

Logistic Fortunes of War, Afghanistan Today

ghan policemen and locals watch a burned out fuel truck, supplying a US-run base, after being targeted by a bomb near Bagram air base some 50, kms north of Kabul on October 26, 2011.
A female member of the senate; a former minister of agriculture; the son of a recently dismissed security minister. The prominence of the shadowy cast of Afghan logistics magnates is as impressive as the scale of the supply operations that sustain 130,000 foreign troops and more than twice as many Afghan army and police forces.

Logistic Fortunes of War, Afghanistan Today

An Afghan army soldier stands near a burning fuel truck outside Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday after a supply convoy of NATO and coalition forces was attacked.
In early January a judge sentenced Stevan Nathan Ringo, a former U.S. Army sergeant, to seven years in prison for accepting $400,000 in bribes from a government contractor in Afghanistan.

Ringo was arrested June 25, and authorities alleged that between December 2009 and February 2010, while Ringo was stationed at Forward Operating Base Shank in Afghanistan’s Logar province, he accepted bribes in return for submitting fraudulent paperwork permitting a contractor to steal about $1.4 million in fuel from the base.

Highway Robbery! U.S. Losing Hundreds of Millions To Rampant Afghan Fuel Theft, TPMMuckraker

An Afghan fire fighter sprays water on a fire after a convoy of NATO fuel tankers was attacked by militants in Behsod district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Nov 14, 2010.
Foreigners are fuelling the problem of corruption in Afghanistan, a country already ranked as one of the most corrupt in the world, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday.

At a major international conference in Germany on the future of Afghanistan last week, Karzai pledged to step up the fight against corruption in return for sustained international support.

But speaking in the capital on Sunday, Karzai said foreigners were adding to the problem by, for example, awarding contracts to high ranking government officials.

Karzai Says Foreigners Fuel Afghan Corruption, Agence France-Presse

Firefighters spray water on a burning fuel tanker which caught fire after a bomb planted in it detonated in the city of Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, May 11, 2012.
In the interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service released by the presidential press office, Karzai also said donor countries share some responsibility for rampant corruption because of a poorly structured system to manage projects. The U.N. and some donor countries have also cited the need for a more efficient system to guarantee the money serves the Afghan people.

"There is no accountability of their contracts, and there is a serious corruption in the implementation of those projects. And the responsibility for this corruption is (with) the international community," Karzai said. "I am hopeful that by joint cooperation we will be able to overcome all these challenges."

Afghan Vows to Keep Corrupt Officials Out of Government, Associated Press

Uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge, Karzai has a point when he says that Western money is the fuel that makes corruption work in Afghanistan.

There is a “what can you do?” attitude among many that echoes the speeches of Gen. David Petraeus. The commander of U.S. and NATO forces is fond of repeating that we are not trying to “turn Afghanistan into Switzerland,” and that we have to be content with “Afghan good enough.”

Corruption in Afghanistan: The Elephant in the Room, RAWA

In the past, many mistakes have been made in addressing corruption, including turning a blind eye. Corruption has been used as a “currency for peace” and is interwoven with the Afghan political economy.

Billions Down the Afghan Hole, New York Times

They almost inevitably do little more than prosecute a few token scapegoats and turn the leaders of any serious anti-corruption program into martyrs. This is especially true of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, where the host government needs the corrupt and loyal powerbrokers and where the U.S. needs the support of a corrupt host government.

How America Corrupted Afghanistan, Center for Strategic and International Studies

An Afghan policeman keeps watch next to a burning truck carrying fuel for NATO forces in Behsud district of Nangarhar province, December 16, 2010. Insurgents set fire to a fuel tanker carrying fuel for NATO forces.
With the pending troop departures, he predicted, corruption will accelerate as “people in power make sure that they can take as much as they can, because the foreigners will not be here forever.”

Corruption in Afghanistan Still a Problem as International Donors Meet, Washington Post

As Americans pull back from Afghanistan, Mr. Farnood’s case exemplifies how the United States is leaving behind a problem it underwrote over the past decade with tens of billions of dollars of aid and logistical support: a narrow business and political elite defined by its corruption, and despised by most Afghans for it.

Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy, New York Times

Five trucks were destroyed in a gas station a few miles to the east of Jalalabad by a single limpet mine attack
What is different from the past is the sheer scale of today‟s corruption. Virtually all Afghans believe it cripples the government, creates a small group of ultra-rich powerbrokers and officials at the expense of the people, and empowers a far less corrupt Taliban by default.

How America Corrupted Afghanistan, Center for Strategic and International Studies

An Afghan policeman leads a fireman out of the scene of a burning NATO fuel tanker on Jalalabad-Kabul highway, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, April 27, 2011. A bomb which was planted underneath of a tanker carrying fuel for the NATO forces, exploded left no dead and casualties, police officials said.
It is time that we as Americans – in government, in the media, and as analysts and academics – took a hard look at the causes of corruption in Afghanistan. The fact is that we are at least as much to blame for what has happened as the Afghans, and we have been grindingly slow to either admit our efforts or correct them.

How America Corrupted Afghanistan, Center for Strategic and International Studies

To deliver fuel in Afghanistan, the United States must pay off a wide variety of protection rackets. And to have support in Afghanistan, the United States must pay off corrupt Afghan officials. Corrupt Afghan officials, growing rich on the combined racket, support us.

In the Dawood Military Hospital scandal, a pilferage scheme leaving Afghan soldiers to be operated on without anesthetic, Lieutenant General William Caldwell protected the position of an American favorite, Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak.

The committee also failed to question Caldwell and Patton about Fassl's testimony clearly contradicted Caldwell's claim that he had only been concerned with getting buy-in from Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak and President Karzai.

Fassl testified said that Patton had insisted at the same Oct. 29, 2010 meeting on changing the proposed IG investigation into an "assistance visit", which he suggested would be perceived by the Afghan authorities as "less intrusive".

On Nov. 2, 2010, Fassl testified, Caldwell again "screamed" at Fassl and two other officers about their introducing the idea of an IG investigation of U.S. assistance to the medical programme. "There is nothing wrong with this command that we can't fix ourselves," Caldwell said, according to Fassl.

General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence, Inter Press Service News

“Have you informed the [Afghan] Ministry of Defense? Have you informed Gen. Petraeus?” Caldwell supposedly asked Geller, according to this source. “This is an embarrassment to the Afghans — can you imagine the embarrassment to Minister Wardak? You know how Afghan culture is — it’s all about saving face.”

Top General Proposed Corruption Probe He’s Accused of Blocking, Wired

In the long-running fuel protection racket, the NATO Training Mission under General Caldwell failed to account for half a billion dollars in U.S. payments. And the Defense Minister's son was one of many U.S. favorites serving as middlemen in the racket.

The shredded documents would have revealed the arrangements.

Kabul - Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, commander NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan, presents Afghan Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak with a Department of Defense civilian award at Camp Eggers, Kabul, June 23, 2010.
Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, commander NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan, presents Afghan Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak with a Department of Defense civilian award at Camp Eggers, Kabul, June 23, 2010.
Bombed fuel truck with heart, eastern Afghanistan

Originally posted to a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 05:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Group W: Resisting War, Team DFH, and Progressive Policy Zone.

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