The $107 million spent on an unfinished Afghan “Pentagon” is the latest in a long line of projects in which American money was misused, wasted or lost to corruption in Afghanistan.
A Washington Post report Monday indicated that the United States has already dumped more than a hundred million on the Afghan military headquarters in Kabul. Yet because of problems with contractors, including theft and mismanagement, the project remains unfinished. U.S. military officials are now scrambling to find funds to complete the project.
This project represents an endemic dilemma across Afghanistan. As the war winds down, and as relations between Afghan President Hamid Karzai break down, the United States has already committed billions of dollars to projects that are not likely to be completed. According to the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), some 47 Afghan military projects worth $1.1 billion won’t be completed until 2015.
These projects represent a fraction of what the United States has spent in Afghanistan. But they’re especially important because the Afghan military is likely to ultimately determine whether the gains made by the United States in a decade of fighting will last. The Pentagon is counting on these forces from preventing the Taliban from regaining power.
So far, the Afghan military has provided little hope that these investments will pay off. The Afghan Army has a 10 percent desertion rate. They’re poorly trained and by most accounts undisciplined.
Without a dramatic change in U.S. policy, the Afghan government will continue to receive billions from the United States. Whether this money will ultimately produce a return on taxpayers’ investment remains to be seen.
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