Why is Uncle Sam awarding half a billion dollars to a Russian defense/export agency? Why is Uncle Sam buying three-quarters of a billion dollars' worth of aircraft for Afghans who can't fly? Congress, are you alive?
Here is a letter from the office of the Special Inspector General, Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Before reading, be sure to stop operating all heavy machinery and place glassware out of reach.
Today, SIGAR released an audit of the Afghan Special Mission Wing (SMW). The audit found that the Department of Defense is moving forward with a $771.8 million purchase of aircraft even though the Afghans lack the capacity to operate and maintain them. SIGAR is recommending that DOD suspend all activity under the contracts awarded for the 48 new aircraft until capacity issues are properly addressed. Furthermore, DOD awarded $553 million to Rosoboronexport, a Russian government agency, after receiving SIGAR’s recommendations that moving forward was imprudent.
Among the report’s findings:
-NATO & DOD do not have a plan with milestones and dates for achieving full strength for the SMW to justify the fleet size.
-DOD performs 50% of maintenance & repair & 70% of critical maintenance & logistics management for SMW and does not have a plan for transferring these functions to the Afghans.
-SMW had less than one-quarter of the 806 personnel needed to reach full strength and during the length of the audit made no tangible growth.
-Only 7 pilots are qualified to fly with night vision goggles, which is necessary for most counter-terrorism missions.
-Difficulty finding recruits who are literate and do not have associations with criminal/insurgent activity has slowed the growth of the SMW.
-Afghan Ministries of Defense and Interior do not have an agreement on the SMW command and control structure, impacting growth and capacity.
-DOD task orders to provide maintenance, logistics, and supply services lack performance metrics and oversight has been inadequate.
-DOD intends to provide an additional $109 million per year for oversight, maintenance, training, and logistics support for the next several years.
-Training commander and U.S. contractors acknowledge the Afghan government will not be able to independently perform maintenance & logistics for the SMW for at least 10 years.
Photos from Audit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sigarhq/sets/72157634374631432/
Oversight is essential, and thank you, SIGAR. But Congress has to DO something to stop the madness.