Standards, Accountability at Issue in Afghanistan

A lack of accountability and transparency in training, advising, and assisting programs in Afghanistan has led to persistent shortcomings in many areas where the US has spent a great deal of time and money training Afghan forces, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said Tuesday. When asked about reports that US military air advisors this past spring grappled with a spike in hazardous traffic reports at Jalalabad, due to a lack of basic aviation English instruction for veteran Afghan aviators, SIGAR John Sopko said, “I’m not surprised.” Sopko told reporters during a Tuesday breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C., that his office has done studies on the Defense Department’s literacy programs for the country writ large, which showed little accountability or progress. “I think it is indicative of what we have there,” he said, noting there is little incentive to rein in cost when rotations by DOD, State, or USAID officials are often six to nine months before another official takes over. “You say the guy ahead of you didn’t do anything, you were a great success, you hand it to the next guy,” Sopko said. “This goes back to accountability.” Sopko noted SIGAR issued an audit in May, which took the $562 million spent on Afghan civil aviation infrastructure since 2002 to task, noting that despite the spending, a planned handover of management to the Afghan government at the end of 2014 had not occurred. He also said new airspace management approach should be awarded before the interim DOD contract expires this September.