US Takes Over Afghan Contracts to Foil Warlords

Tuesday, 16 Aug 2011 03:26 PM

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The U.S. military is awarding about $1 billion in new transport contracts in Afghanistan in an effort to keep government funds from finding their way into the hands of Taliban and Afghan warlords. Brokers and middlemen in protection rackets had been skimming money from current contracts, The Washington Post reported.

The new contracts go to about 20 companies, and contracts with seven current contractors have been suspended.

“I think we’ve finally got our arms around this thing,” a senior military officer told the Post, adding the new contracts were the result of a year’s worth of “intelligence work and asking the right questions. We’re now starting to take action.”

House and Senate investigations have determined that transport and security money was flowing to warlords as part of a scheme to ensure the safe arrival of the convoys. Congressional committees have charged that the military was aware of the problem but was reluctant to take action for fear of disrupting the supply link for U.S. troops, the Post reported.

“I appreciate that the Department of Defense has taken steps to reform its Afghan trucking contracts, but I am concerned that they still lack sufficient visibility and accountability to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not getting into the hands of the enemy,” the Post quotes Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass., as saying. Tierney’s House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee investigated the contract last year.

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