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Half US military aid to Afghanistan stolen, expert says

US has spent $76 billion on security in Afghanistan since 2002 but analyst says corruption has led to huge losses

Web editor: Yuksel Serdar Oguz   | 13.08.2017
Half US military aid to Afghanistan stolen, expert says FILE PHOTO

KABUL, Afghanistan

More than half of the $76 billion worth of U.S. military aid to the Afghan security forces has been “looted and embezzled”, a former intelligence officer has told Anadolu Agency.

Since the U.S. began training and supplying the police and military in 2002, more than $76 billion has been spent on Afghan security, according to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

However, Kabul Khan Tadbeer, a former Afghan intelligence official and a security analyst, said “brazen corruption” had seen a large proportion of the money and weapons siphoned off.

“Those internal forces who grabbed power after the fall of the Taliban regime notoriously armed private militias and even embezzled numerous small arms and ammunition that are not accounted for yet,” he said.

Tadbeer called for greater accountability in Washington and Kabul to uncover corruption and said Afghans deserved to know where the aid had gone.

“Actual military equipment worth $76 billion without any corruption is enough for us for the next 40 years,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“But at the moment we do not have half of it left with our defense and security forces as most of it has been looted and embezzled.”

Corruption among the Afghan security forces has led to President Ashraf Ghani establishing the Justice and Judicial Center for Anti-Corruption as well as the National Procurement Council to oversee major public sector contracts.

A former police chief in the southern province of Helmand was recently jailed for three years for selling police district chief posts and appointing “ghost” officers so he could pocket their salaries.

Small arms

The U.S. set up the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund in 2005 and has allocated the $66 billion since then, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. All but $5 billion had been distributed by April.

The GAO’s audit said the bulk of funds -- more than $26 billion -- was spent on “sustainment”, namely salaries, ammunition, equipment maintenance, information technology and clothing.

Around $18 billion had been spent on transport, infrastructure projects, operations and training, the report added.

Among the hardware provided to Afghan forces by the U.S. were 600,000 small arms such as handguns and rifles; 163,000 radios; 76,000 vehicles, including 22,000 Humvees; and 30,000 pieces of bomb disposal equipment.

Around 16,000 intelligence and surveillance items, such as unmanned surveillance drones, and 208 aircraft, including 110 helicopters, were also provided.

Another security analyst, former Brig. Mohammad Arif, said small arms were easily stolen and sold on the black market. Such weaponry sometimes ends up in the hands of militants fighting the security forces.

“The small arms, mostly pistols even fell in the hands of the criminal and the mafia in major urban centres,” he said.

The GAO noted that despite the high level of spending, the U.S. had yet to achieve its main objective -- enabling the Afghan security forces to operate independently.

Ghani’s spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal told Anadolu Agency that countering corruption remained a top priority for the government.

“The reason behind the establishment of the Justice and Judicial Center for Anti-Corruption is this that we want to curb corruption from recurring in the future and address that which took place in the past,” he said.

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