The Pentagon is investigating whether the main food and water supplier to U.S. forces in Afghanistan illegally moved provisions bound for U.S. service members through an Iranian port, the Wall Street Journal reported
Anham FZCO was awarded a contract by the United States Defense Logistics Agency in the summer of 2012 — worth an estimated $8.1 billion — to provide food, water, and produce to American forces throughout Afghanistan.
According to the Journal, Anham shipped equipment it needed to establish the infrastructure for its food supply system in Afghanistan — steel, tractors, and refrigeration panels — through the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
After Journal inquiries, the company notified U.S. government authorities that some supplies had been moved by its foreign subcontractors through Iran and that it was trying to determine what had happened.
While Iran is the least expensive and most straightforward route for moving supplies into Afghanistan, U.S. law prohibits conducting business with Iran as a way to pressure that country into curbing enrichment of uranium which the United States and its allies believe is part of Teheran's push for nuclear weapons.
Two Republican senators, Mark Kirk of Illinois and New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte had called on the Pentagon's Inspector General to probe whether Anham had done business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard which has economic control over the Bandar Abbas port, according to the Journal.
Supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan is immensely complicated logistically.
While the U.S. troop presence is winding down, in 2012 the Pentagon needed to supply 250 locations and some 100,000 troops around Afghanistan. This required each week moving 22 million pounds of food, water, and produce.
Supplies need to be moved into the landlocked country, surrounded by Iran and Pakistan and in the north by Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Shipping through the former Soviet republics is said to be too expensive.
Pakistan has occasionally blocked U.S. shipments to protest drone strikes within its country.
Anham, headquartered in Dubai
, was founded in 2004. Its principals have ties to predecessor companies in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The company holds other lucrative contracts with the Pentagon elsewhere in the Middle East.
Anham's Afghanistan bid was more than $1 billion lower than its main competitor, the Journal reported.
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