The Fiscal Times
April 27, 2013
Hard-fought gains in Afghanistan over the last decade are at risk of being squandered – unless immediate action is taken to determine the fate of tens of billions of dollars in questionable reconstruction projects, the chief of the Afghan audit agency said.
In an exclusive interview with The Fiscal Times, John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said that the Pentagon, aid agencies and the State Department must quickly evaluate these projects to determine whether the billions being spent in Afghanistan right now will yield the desired results or not. Many projects are simply not sustainable, he said – and continuing to spend money on them results not just in a wasted fortune, but very real risks to nearly 70,000 American soldiers who are still there.
“They have not thought about sustainability,” Sopko said, referring to the military, aid agencies and the State Department. “If you don’t think about that, you’re going to build a bridge and give it to the Afghans who can’t sustain it.”
He added, “There’s pervasive corruption throughout the country.”
These warnings from Sopko – who was appointed to his post last summer by President Obama – come as lawmakers, the public, and the policy community in D.C. have largely turned their attention away from the war and from the soldiers still fighting and dying there. Despite spending some $500 billion to fight in Afghanistan, the war is becoming invisible. Sopko and his team at SIGAR are among the few voices reminding the country about financial mismanagement, corruption and the continuing threat to American lives.
“I believe in the mission in Afghanistan,” he said. “We lost too many lives and we’ve spent too much money” to ignore it.
This article was posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 5:23 am