October 10, 2013: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John F. Sopko, wrote to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about serious concerns about the impact of the drawdown on security and the related implications for ensuring adequate oversight of the U.S.-funded reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. In brief, SIGAR is projecting that even in a “best case” scenario the US will have access to barely 21 percent of Afghanistan in 2014. This represents almost a 50 percent loss of access from current estimates. Making matters worse, SIGAR estimated that nearly $72 million in infrastructure projects were now inaccessible. This means that nearly $100 million is “currently” being spent on projects in Afghanistan with NO oversight.
Specifically, earlier this year SIGAR was unable to visit infrastructure projects in northern Afghanistan valued at $72 million because they are located in areas that could not be reached by U.S. civilian employees. SIGAR is referring to these inaccessible reconstruction sites as areas outside of the “oversight bubbles.” The areas covered by these “oversight bubbles” are defined by the ability of the U.S. government to provide both adequate security and rapid emergency medical support to civilian employees traveling to the area. In effect, these “oversight bubbles” represent areas controlled by Taliban forces and are growing daily. As such, this document gives a rare glimpse behind the curtain of just how badly the US/NATO forces are being routed in Afghanistan. Further, one can only assume that in a country that is ranked third from last in the world for corruption (only North Korea and Somalia ranked worse http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/05/map-the-most-and-least-corrupt-countries-in-the-world/) that hard earned US tax dollars are being squandered. Not only are the tax dollars being wasted, but they are being spent in areas controlled by the Taliban and being paid out often directly to our enemies, which takes reckless spending to the ridiculously absurd. Only in the minds of politicians and inept generals could one ever think the US could win a war by funding its enemies and building up their infrastructure!
The situation on the ground in Afghanistan has gotten so bad, “significant portions of Afghanistan are already inaccessible to SIGAR, other inspectors general, the Government Accountability Office, and other U.S. civilians conducting oversight, such as contracting officers.” SIGAR believes this constraint on oversight will only “worsen” as more U.S. and coalition bases close. The map illustrates just how little access the US is projected to have next year in Afghanistan as the US military completes its retreat.
At this juncture it is worthwhile to quote an entire excerpt that illustrates exactly how bad the situation is even through the politicized lens of a high level letter written between senior agency leadership. SIGAR writes in his letter:
“Although it is difficult to predict the future of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, it is likely that no more than 21 percent of Afghanistan will be accessible to U.S. civilian oversight personnel by the end of the transition, a 47 percent decrease since 2009. We have also been told by State Department officials that this projection may be optimistic, especially if the security situation does not improve. The 21 percent figure may be too high. The oversight access shown on the attached maps presents a best-case scenario where weather, terrain, and security conditions pose no serious threat to helicopter medical evacuation missions.”
The implications of Mr. Sopko’s letter are profound. Even an unlikely “best case” scenario projects the US to maintain only a very small foothold in some of Afghanistan’s major cities. However, the security situation is currently very bad and projected to get worse. Just as our analysts have predicted, since the failure in Tora Bora when the US lost the initiative during the early stages of the war, the true extent of US failure in Afghanistan is finally being revealed. In fact, we project a rapid decrease in access to around 10% as Helmand and Kandahar Provinces rapidly fall back under complete Taliban control. By 2015 we are predicting a near total loss of access and a likely collapse of the regime in Kabul.
See the actual letter at: http://www.sigar.mil/pdf/alerts/SIGAR_14-4-SP.pdf
By Guiles Hendrik
October 28, 2013
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