How did USA burn money in Afghanistan
The rapid takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban has sparked a political crisis for the President of USA, Joe Biden. Desperate scenes were seen at the Kabul airport and fears of humanitarian distress arose.
Questions were also raised about what the USA had done to bring peace and stability to a country torn apart by war. Considering the USA had spent 20 years and $1 trillion dollars in this effort.
The majority of the money was spent on the US military. However, billions were also flushed down the toilet.
Congress had set up a special watchdog to document the successes and failures of America in Afghanistan. Below are the 10 projects that the US watchdog – Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction a.k.a Sigar identified as pointless expenditure.
1. Planes sold as scrap
The USA made an effort to build up the Afghan airforce and spent approximately $549 million on 20 refurbished Italian-made G22 twin turboprop aircraft. Of these 20 planes, 16 were left lying in the Kabul international airport after persistent maintenance issues made them unflyable. These planes were eventually sold as scrap for a measly sum of $32,000. Also read Everything you need to know about Mutual Funds
2. Broken and washed away roads
The US Agency for International Development built a 101 kilometer long road from Gardez City to Khost Province at a cost of $176 million. However, an audit conducted less than a month after its completion showed that five sections of the road were destroyed and two others were washed away.
3. Camouflage uniform
As much as $28 million was spent on purchasing camouflage uniforms for the Afghan military. However, the camouflage pattern on the uniforms was nothing like the surrounding environment.
A 2017 report says that the Afghanistan minister of defense “liked the woodland, urban, and temperate patterns,”.
4. Leaky buildings
An Afghan contractor was given $500,000 to construct a training facility for the US military. The training facility was to resemble an Afghan village, and was to be used for conducting simulated search and clearance exercises.
A January 2015 audit referred to these building as “melting building” since within four months water had begun to percolate into the walls. The bricks used contained too much sand and too little clay causing the structures to erode.
5. War on drugs
Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium poppies. The USA spent an estimated $8.6 billion to fight drugs and curb the cultivation of opium poppies. However, by 2017 poppy cultivation and opium production were at record highs!!
6. Failed power transmission
An Afghan company was handed over $116 million to build a power station to provide electricity to almost one million Afghans. It was later found during the inspection that the funds were mismanaged and the power station was non-operational.
The project was tied up due to “land-acquisition and right-of-way issues have not been resolved, and there was no contract provision to permanently connect the system to a power source,”. Sigar auditors also found that the structure was structurally unsound and could pose a risk.
7. Ghost headquarters
$36 million was spent on a 64,000 square foot command center. The headquarters was large enough to fit 1,500 people. However, in 2013 a Sigar inspector wrote “It appears to be the best constructed building I have seen in my travels in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, it is unused, unoccupied, and presumably will never be used for its intended purpose.”
8. Afghanistan’s military
$83 billion was spent over 20 years to develop the Afghan military. The military was expected to fight the Taliban and bring stability to the nation. However, the speed at which the military collapsed on the face of Taliban onslaught surprised even the US military leaders.