• Sad SIGAR Saga in Afghanistan

    February 22, 2013 // 13 Comments »

    Northern Portion of Imam SahibAs the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) shuts down in what can only be thought of as a mercy killing, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) continues its dreary work. They send out regular press releases that all look like this most recent one:

    Today, SIGAR released an inspection of the Imam Sahib Border Police company headquarters in Kunduz province, Afghanistan. The $7.3 million facility was built to hold 175 people, yet only 12 were on site and no one was aware of any plans to move additional personnel to the facility. The personnel did not have keys to many of the buildings and most the facility appeared to be unused. Additionally, there is no contract or plan to train personnel in the operations and maintenance of the facility raising questions about its sustainability.

    Full Report

    Photo of Facility (shown above)

    Should you have any questions or need any additional information please do not hesitate to contact our Director of Public Affairs, Phil LaVelle at (703) 545-5974 or philip.j.lavelle.civ@mail.mil.

    Friends, do a little search and replace exercise and that SIGAR report could have been right out of Iraq circa 2006. It strongly suggests we have learned nothing, that the reconstruction of Afghanistan is simply another foreign policy feel-good farce. It means no… one… cares.

    After all I went through personally to bring the abuses, waste and fraud of Iraq reconstruction to light, well, that makes me sad.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Losing Money Through Stupidity in Afghanistan Again

    July 21, 2011 // Comments Off on Losing Money Through Stupidity in Afghanistan Again

    The title alone of the lastest SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstrcution) report sums it up:

    LIMITED Interagency Coordination and INSUFFICIENT Controls over US Funds in Afghanistan Hamper US Efforts to Develop the Afghan Financial Sector and Safeguard US Cash.

    Better yet, to show you the level of duplicity practiced by State, the US Embassy in Kabul suggested to SIGAR that they change the title to be:

    IMPROVED Interagency Coordination and ADDITIONAL Controls over US Funds in Afghanistan Hamper US Efforts to Develop the Afghan Financial Sector and Safeguard US Cash.

    What a sense of humor. But we digress.

    You can probably piece the story together yourself. After only ten years of fightin’ and reconstructin’ in Afghanland, the various US government agencies involved do not cooperate and State, the lead Federal agency for the debacle, is not exercising its Daddy role well. Meanwhile, Afghan bad men are taking advantage of this to suck billions of dollars out of our pockets. The Taliban are doing wicked good, thank you, and the US is no closer to its goals than, oh, say ten years ago.

    Not Playing Well Together

    If you really have the stomach to know more details, the report is quite thorough in documenting how poorly everyone plays together.

    For instance, a key interagency working group did not include all US agencies involved in implementing financial sector development programs. Specifically, DHS, which is implementing programs to strengthen the visibility over currency flows through the financial sector, was not a member of the group. Also, DOD and DHS have not coordinated their work with the same commercial banks.

    Afghans Not Playing Nicely at All

    Afghan ministries have not always cooperated. Treasury reported that its programs to strengthen the Afghan government’s ability to identify financial crimes have had limited results because of Afghan officials’ reluctance to prosecute.

    Afghan officials received 1.8 million Large Cash Transaction Reports, over 600 Suspicious Transaction Reports, and between 10,000 to 13,000 currency declaration reports from passengers leaving Afghanistan via Kabul International Airport. From this massive fetid pile, Afghan officials forwarded only 21 leads to law enforcement organizations. The Attorney General’s office pursued only 4 of the 21 leads to prosecution.

    Additionally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai banned US government advisors from working at Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB). USAID has provided assistance to DAB under other initiatives since 2003, so, hey, why not.

    US Drops the Ball in Play

    US agencies do not record the serial numbers of cash disbursed to contractors. Commercial banks do not record the serial numbers of electronic payments made by US agencies to contractors when their electronic payments are converted into cash. Also, US contracting regulations neither prohibit prime contractors from using unlicensed facilities to pay subcontractors nor require them to use banks capable of handling electronic funds transfers. The US still disburses some seven percent of funds in straight up cold cash, with no electronic records or receipts.

    What Does This Mean?

    As a result, the US is unable to record information as funds enter Afghanistan’s economy, and the Afghan and US governments are unable to track these funds as they move from person to person, information that could be important for law enforcement purposes. Basically we just throw the money (now up to $70 billion in US tax dollars for Afghan reconstruction alone) out there and hope it never reaches a narco trafficker, the Taliban or other naughty boys.

    So what does happen to all this money? A lot of it appears to be leaving Afghanistan, likely on flights to Dubai and other banking black holes. DHS reports that installation of two custom-built bulk currency counters for the airport’s customs areas was delayed by seven months because of disagreements over where to place the machines. Other impediments to DHS efforts include the Afghan government’s practice of allowing VIPs to bypass the main security screenings used by all other passengers. Additionally, DHS officials are barred from the facility that VIPs currently use.

    But there is good news! SIGAR makes a recommendation to the US Ambassador to Afghanistan to improve interagency coordination on financial sector issues. Whew, so that’s settled. Suckers.

    Read the whole SIGAR report.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military