The Pentagon cannot account for $1.3 billion of an emergency funding which was directly routed to US military officers in Afghanistan for critical reconstruction projects, an internal report reveals.
The missing money amounts to 60 percent of all such spending under the Commander’s Emergency Response Program which meant to bypass bureaucracy and speed up the reconstruction of urgently-needed infrastructure damaged in more than 13 years of US war in Afghanistan, The McClatchy reports.
A yearlong investigation by John F. Sopko, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, has found that the Pentagon could not provide financial information about 6 in 10 dollars of $2.26 billion it has spent as part of the program between 2004 to 2014.
The inspector general divided the Pentagon spending in Afghanistan into 20 categories covering areas such as transportation, education, agriculture, water and sanitation and health care.
But the largest category with 5,163 projects came under a 21st category which Sopko termed “unknown.” By contrast, all other 20 categories covered a total of 4,494 projects.
About 70 percent of the $100 billion the United States has spent on Afghan projects so far has gone through the Defense Department, with the rest distributed by the US Agency for International Development and other departments.
The Pentagon has refused to comment on the findings of the inspector general’s probe. However, US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in Afghanistan and 19 other countries, suggested that some of the money was redirected from reconstruction to other more urgent war requirements, including counterinsurgency.
The command did not explain why the funding earmarked for Afghan reconstruction would go to counterinsurgency which does belong to any of the categories defined by the Pentagon under the emergency program.