The tragic and absurd US adventure in Afghanistan continues to end lives and empty wallets. Though Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden left the country shortly after the 2001 invasion, the US has continued to shed blood and treasure for an additional 14 years and counting (Bin Laden was eventually assassinated in Pakistan where he was living near a major Pakistani military institution).
The latest addition to the already $1.7 trillion [PDF] the US has spent to-date on the “War on Terror” is a $43 million compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Afghanistan, that, according to the office of the Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), should have cost around $500,000.
According to the SIGAR report [PDF], the Pentagon offered no explanation for the high costs of the project, nor would answer any questions about the project. Furthermore, the Department of Defense claimed it was not knowledgeable about the $800 million Task Force for Stability and Business Operations (TFBSO) program that was responsible for building the $43 million gas station.
But it actually gets worse. Not only was the gas station amazingly expensive it is thoroughly useless. SIGAR notes that if TFBSO performed a feasibility study, they would have learned that Afghanistan “lacks the natural gas transmission and local distribution infrastructure necessary to support a viable market for CNG vehicles.” And even if there was such an infrastructure, converting existing Afghanistan automobiles to CNG would cost $700 per car in a country where the average annual income is $690.
Can you say boondoggle?
SIGAR had already identified $279.5 million in questionable costs in Afghanistan, now it looks like the Pentagon is more concerned with obstructing investigators than responsibly managing a $800 million program. Watch the money burn.
Waste, fraud, and abuse continues to be a chronic problem for the Department of Defense, which still cannot be effectively audited. This is a trillion dollar annual budget with no real accountability.
Despite spending of trillions of dollars and spilling of oceans of blood since 2001, Afghanistan essentially remains the same country it was before the invasion. All has been for naught.