Sunday, August 23, 2009

Funding the Taliban to kill our troops in Afghanistan

WSJ : Afghanistan Contractors Outnumber Troops
Defense Department census :
"The number of military contractors in Afghanistan [update : including 5,165 armed private security guards] rose to almost 74,000 by June 30, far outnumbering the roughly 58,000 U.S. soldiers on the ground at that point. As the military force in Afghanistan grows further, to a planned 68,000 by the end of the year, the Defense Department expects the ranks of contractors to increase more.

A recent contract is worth up to $15 billion to two firms, DynCorp International Inc. and Fluor Corp., to build and support U.S. military bases throughout Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, government auditors have repeatedly uncovered military mismanagement of contractors. The Wartime Contracting Commission reported finding during an April trip that the military had accepted a new headquarters building in Kabul hobbled by shoddy construction. Officials in Iraq and Afghanistan were unable to give the commission complete lists of work being contracted out at the bases they visited."

Reuters blog : Who is funding the Afghan Taliban?

"The manager of an Afghan firm with lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. government builds in a minimum of 20 percent for the Taliban in his cost estimates. The manager, who will not speak openly, has told friends privately that he makes in the neighborhood of $1 million per month. Out of this, $200,000 is siphoned off for the insurgents.

“I was building a bridge,” he said, one evening over drinks. “The local Taliban commander called and said ‘don’t build a bridge there, we’ll have to blow it up.’ I asked him to let me finish the bridge, collect the money — then they could blow it up whenever they wanted. We agreed, and I completed my project.”

In Farah province, local officials report that the Taliban are taking up to 40 percent of the money coming in for the National Solidarity Program, one of the country’s most successful community reconstruction projects, which has dispensed hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the country over the past six years."

The policy of using contractors allows the government to dole out profitable patronage contracts to their cronies while conducting foreign policy without due oversight. Sure, the Taliban use their cut to kill our troops and some innocents get shot up in the lack of oversight, but you can't make a nest egg without cracking a few hamlets.

Gore Vidal : "In this fashion more than a third of the nation's federal income has been spent for more than a generation in order that the congressmen who give the generals the money they ask for are then re-elected with money given them by the corporations that were awarded federal money by generals who, when they retire, will go to work for those same corporations."
~Matters of Fact and Fiction 1972


Chris Foote said...

Dios mio. First we let corporations have all the political power. I understand how it's a difficult issue as countries compete to house head offices but it is still a big mistake.

Now corporations have the military power and citizens pay them for this control.

I didn't realise how big mercenary business was. This news has robbed me of any hope for a better world.

Boris said...

To be fair, not every contractor is a mercenary of the classic definition. Tasks such as catering, certain construction and such that used to comprise entire trade groups and corps within armed forces are now being met with contractors. I suppose now you could say the mercenary business has diversified to the point where it can now offer not only specialised combat and security people but logistics services as well.

I was in a car last year with an Afghanistan vet friend who let off a string of vicious expletives when a KBR truck went past us in the other lane.

Alison said...

Hi Boris
Was I not clear enough I was talking about military funded construction projects and logistic support? I'll try to think of a note I can add to clarify that.
Point still stands - lack of government oversight of taxpayer money going to military contracts in Afghanistan is funding the Taliban.

Come on, Chris, buck up ;-) It's the same world it was before you read this. People make beautiful and useful things and sometimes they also bitch about crap like this which is only possible because 1)there is no draft in the US - if you don't count poverty as a draft - and 2)privatizing traditional military services is a fabulous new source of profit.
For hope I would suggest watching "The Take" by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein.
Say, could you drop me a note recommending good news sources to follow in Colombia? Thanks.

thwap said...

Is there still supposed to be a "debate" about this clusterfuck?

Which of Karzai's "cabinet ministers" is a drug-lord in a network that sees drug profits go to guns which end up going to the Taliban who kill Canadian troops who are dying to prop-up a corrupt puppet government that won a rigged election, blah, blah, blah.

(You know Alison, given what you say about the cut for the Taliban, it's a good thing for our troops that much of the $1 in every 10 that goes to reconstruction and "development" stays in the USA, with only a pittance being doled-out to subcontractors.

Boris said...

Hi Alison, I think my comment was more directed at Chris than you. I wasn't challenging your point by any stretch :) I just find the term 'contractor' problematic because it seems to general and a poor descriptor for what it is actually being used to describe, where 'mercenary' is far too specific. Just my own bug-bear, no worries about your post.

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