An internal audit released Thursday shows that the government paid $3 million for eight patrol boats meant for police in Afghanistan, a landlocked country. Yet despite spending a breathtaking amount of taxpayer money, the boats never even made it to Afghanistan: they still sit in a military warehouse in Virginia, CBS News reports.
The boats were originally destined to patrol the Amu Darya River river between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, in an effort to prevent “smuggling and illegal entry into Afghanistan,” according to Gen. Harold Greene. The boats, which cost roughly $375,000 each, were also intended to move supplies via the river. Nine months after their 2010 purchase, however, they were deemed unnecessary for the reconstruction effort. Although it is unclear why the boats were declared unnecessary, John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, says it is likely that the boats will be sold “for scrap or for pennies on the dollar.” Troublingly, the United States provided 19 boats to Uzbekistan in 2004, ostensibly to patrol the very same river.
Saying that the expenditure was “like you gave your credit card to your teenage daughter or son and then you just never looked at the bills,” Sopko said that unanswered questions surrounding the boats are particularly troubling, according to The Washington Post. “This program had been an important national security priority for the Afghan National Security Forces,” Sopko said, adding the caveat “until its cancellation.”
Military spending in Afghanistan has been staggeringly high, and impossible to track, as The Inquisitr previously reported. Most shockingly, Sopko contends that the Department of Defense is unable to determine where reconstruction money was spent in Afghanistan, primarily because the department has “no centralized list of where the taxpayer money went in Afghanistan.” Examples of government over-spending abound in a series of inspector general reports released this year, which highlight the ways that the $100 billion dollars committed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan has been misspent. Sopko points to a command center built in Helmand that reportedly cost taxpayers $34 million, and will never be used. According to The Washington Post, a consulate in Afghanistan that was deemed too unsafe to use upon its construction ended up costing taxpayers $80 million dollars.
In a statement to CBS News, the Department of Defense said that it “strives to ensure every reconstruction project is executed in a manner that demonstrates responsible stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars. We value the oversight provided by inspectors general and audit agencies, and incorporate their findings and recommendations into subsequent efforts.” The statement concluded by alleging that “Singling out a few underperforming projects-or misrepresenting or misconstruing the reasons why a project’s results did not turn out as expected and drawing larger conclusion about the effectiveness of reconstruction efforts-detracts from an accurate understanding of the overall positive impact that reconstruction has had on Afghanistan.”
[Images via Washington Post and PatDollard]