US Paid $700M Tab in Afghanistan That Belonged to Other Countries

Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 07:20 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The U.S. command in Afghanistan is paying for the logistical expenses of its coalition partners because civilian contractors bill the Army rather than pursue reimbursement for their services elsewhere,  The Washington Times reported.

A U.S. Army audit has shown that some $700 million in food, laundry, and other logistical costs incurred between 2010 and 2012 that could have been billed to America's allies in Afghanistan were instead charged by the contractors to the Pentagon. The Washington Times obtained the results of the audit through the Freedom of Information Act.

Coalition partners who are NATO allies generally incur their own deployment costs, according to NATO guidelines. Some U.S. allies in the country, including Jordan and South Korea, are not NATO members.

Scott Amey of the Center for Defense Information Project on Government Oversight criticized the mismanagement. "Contractors need to estimate coalition partner costs, and the Army must get bills out the door and push to recoup every penny that is owed."

The contractors, DynCorp and Fluor, provided services to some 130 bases. The work of contractors in Afghanistan is overseen by the Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program.

The audit showed that in some instances, partners such as France and South Korea were not billed because of a lack of documentation or signatures. U.S. personnel assigned to liaison with the contractors were sometimes overburdened and undertrained for their responsibilities, the Times reported.

Col. Jane Crichton, spokeswoman for U.S. Forces Afghanistan, said in an email to the Times: "The problem resided with the contractor failure to capture cost for each coalition partner receiving support through the contract and absence of a reconciliation mechanism between the support contractors and USFOR-A."

Some $40 million out of the $700 million has been recouped so far, according to Crichton.

The Army relies heavily on outside contractors for logistical support, including transportation, housing, food, and laundry. Contract support personnel in Afghanistan have at times outnumbered U.S. forces.

There are about 33,500 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan and over 17,000 troops from coalition partners.

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