Several days ago, I wrote about how the Pentagon has paid $720M in late fees for failing to return 20 foot storage containers. (Pentagon Needs to Learn Fiscal Responsibility) It seems as though this report on the late fees was just the tip of the iceberg.
The latest news to come out of the Commission on Wartime Contracting is that around $12M per day is spent by the military on wasted and fraudulent projects and items associated with our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The total estimated waste and fraud so far is around $60B. Worse yet, the commission reported that the money being wasted could increase as the US moves into more reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2011 budget projections, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will exceed $206B. The commission reported that in Afghanistan alone, contract waste runs from 10% to as much as 20% of the $206B total cost, and instances of defrauding the military accounts for another 5% to 9%.
Among the wastes cited by the commission was an agricultural development program in Afghanistan that first started out costing $60M and was soon expanded at a cost of $1M per day and now totals $360M. The intended purpose to help local farmers with their crops, but instead of helping, it seems the US subsidy has reduced personal initiative on the part of the locals. Many of the farmers who are growing new crops are selling them across the border in Pakistan, often to member of the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Part of the report lists the second largest funding source to the local Afghan people behind illegal drugs is the diversion of US funding, resulting in $360M being lost to profiteering, bribery, and extortion by power brokers and criminals. In other words, millions of US dollars are going into the hands of the very people we are fighting against.
I’ve worked in the retail world and I can tell you for a fact that if any of the companies I worked for had losses of 5%, let alone 15%-29%, they would be out of business in no time.
Someone needs to find out who all in the Pentagon is responsible for these huge unacceptable losses and hold them accountable. In the real world, people would lose their jobs and possibly go to jail. Perhaps if Pentagon officials responsible for the fiscal oversight find themselves being court-martialed for derelict of duty and dishonorably discharged, resulting in the loss of all military benefits and pensions, then perhaps they’d start being more responsible with taxpayer money.