National Security

SIGAR John Sopko Discusses Most Egregious Examples of Government Waste in Afghanistan

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko discussed the most egregious examples of wasted taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan Tuesday on CNBC.

Sopko said the worst instance of government waste in Afghanistan was the Pentagon's purchase of $1 billion worth of Russian airplanes and helicopters for Afghanistan's counter narcotics program.

Not only did the Pentagon elect to purchase Russian made aircraft for the Afghan National Army, but the Afghans do not have the pilots necessary to operate the helicopters and jets, Sopko said.

According to the SIGAR IG, a second less costly but in some ways worse oversight from the Pentagon was SIGAR's finding that "bad management" of the Culvert Denial System led to the deaths of U.S. and Afghan personnel:

JANE WELLS: Maria, thank you. Inspector General, thank you for joining us. I don’t know where to begin here. You have found so many things. What is the most egregious example of waste you believe you have uncovered so far in Afghanistan?

JOHN SOPKO: You know, to answer that question, I’ll answer in two parts. I think the most egregious was the recent purchase of almost $1 billion worth of Russian helicopters and airplanes from — for the Afghan counternarcotics program. The Afghans aren’t capable of handling the equipment they have now, but the pentagon rushed in to buy new equipment. We told them, wait, wait till the Afghans can handle the equip they have now, otherwise that equipment will sit in a tarmac and rust. And the second, although the amount wasn’t as bad, the second most egregious event we uncovered had to do with the Culvert Denial System. These are steel plates and steel mesh put under Culverts on the highways. They were to prevent IEDs from being placed where our troops were traveling on the highways, and we found bad management led to the death of American and Afghan and coalition forces. So that’s another horrible example of fraud and waste.