Stopping Waste in Afghanistan

The international commander for Afghanistan said Thursday he is working with coalition and Afghan officials to reduce what a US watchdog has described as the rampant corruption and waste of US development funds in the poverty-stricken nation. John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction (SIGAR), said Sept. 12 there was “no unified anti-corruption strategy” even though “Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world” and the US is spending billions of dollars there. In a Pentagon briefing on Thursday, Army Gen. John Campbell, commander of International Security Assistance Force and US Forces Afghanistan, said ISAF was working with SIGAR and the Afghan Interior and Defense ministers “to strengthen controls on how we are leveraging funding.” Campbell said they have briefed coalition and Afghan officials on the “new procedures to minimize expenditures,” including mandatory electronic payments instead of using cash, and paying in Afghanis instead of US dollars. Although he agreed with Sopko that US force reductions will reduce their ability to check use of funds in the countryside, they were adding US personnel inside the ministries. “I think that will really help us with the transparency,” he said.