Afghanistan War Costs: the Year in Review
2012 saw some important milestones in the Afghanistan war. The last of the surge troops left Afghanistan in September. U.S. and Afghan officials met twice to discuss post-2014 plans. The international community emphasized its continued commitment to Afghanistan by pledging billions in economic aid.
But the past year also brought more questions about whether the billions the U.S. has spent in Afghanistan were an effective use of taxpayer money.
Below is a roundup of the top reports in 2012 that uncovered examples of wasteful spending and an ineffective strategy in Afghanistan:
Afghanistan’s National Power Utility: $12.8 million in DOD-purchased equipment sits unused, and USAID paid a contractor for work not done. (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, December 2012)
Pentagon Says Afghan Forces Still Need Assistance (The New York Times on the Department of Defense annual Afghanistan assessment, December 2012)
- “A bleak new Pentagon report has found that only one of the Afghan National Army’s 23 brigades is able to operate independently without air or other military support from the United States and NATO partners”
DOD Decision Makers Need Additional Analyses to Determine Costs and Benefits of Returning Excess Equipment (The Government Accountability Office, December 2012)
- “[The military’s equipment in Afghanistan] estimated to be worth more than $36 billion, has accumulated during a 10-year period. DOD officials also estimate that it could cost $5.7 billion to return or transfer equipment from Afghanistan.
Fiscal Year Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund Projects are behind schedule and lack adequate sustainment plans (SIGAR, July 2012)
- “Five of seven fiscal year 2011 AIF [Afghanistan infrastructure] projects are 6-15 months behind schedule, and most projects may not achieve desired COIN benefits for several years”
Afghan National Security Forces Facilities: Concerns with Funding, Oversight, and Sustainability for Operation and Maintenance (SIGAR, October 2012)
- “The Afghan government will likely be incapable of fully sustaining ANSF [Afghan National Security] facilities after the transition in 2014 and the expected decrease in U.S. and coalition support.”
- “The ANSF lacks personnel with the technical skills required to operate and maintain critical facilities, such as water supply, waste water treatment, and power generation.”
- “The Ministry of Defense’s procurement process is unable to provide the Afghan army with O&M supplies in a timely manner.”
U.S. probes reported record-shredding of fuel buys for Afghan army (Reuters on SIGAR letter, Interim Report on Afghan National Army Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants, September 2012)
- “Investigators are probing reports of record-shredding by officials in the U.S.-led NATO command that trains the Afghan army after learning that records of fuel purchases for the Afghans totaling nearly $475 million are gone.”
Military’s Own Report Card Gives Afghan Surge an F (Wired on ISAF report on Enemy Initiated Attacks, September 2012)
- “The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan ended last week. Conditions in Afghanistan are mostly worse than before it began. That conclusion doesn’t come from anti-war advocates. It relies on data recently released by the NATO command in Afghanistan.”
USAID has disbursed $9.5 billion for reconstruction and funded some financial audits as required, but many audits face significant delays, accountability limitations, and lack of resources (SIGAR, April 2012)
USAID spent almost $400 Million on an Afghan stabilization project despite uncertain results, but has taken steps to better assess similar Efforts (SIGAR, April 2012)
GAO: Military lowering bar to evaluate Afghan troop progress (CNN on GAO report, Long-standing Challenges May Affect Progress and Sustainment of Afghan National Security Forces)