U.S. Funds Afghan Warlords

U.S. Funds Afghan Warlords
A new Congressional report outlines U.S. protection payoffs to Afghan warlords. Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan was just issued by the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, chaired by Rep. John Tierney (D, MA-6). The subcommittee will hold hearings on the topic today.

Truck convoys supply Forward Operating Bases throughout Afghanistan under DOD’s $2 billion Host Nation Trucking (HNT) program, and the contractors are responsible for providing their own security. They end up “hiring” the warlords and insurgents who would be prone to attacking them.

Key points of the report:

“The Department of Defense has been largely blind to the potential strategic consequences of its supply chain contingency contracting. U.S. military logisticians have little visibility into what happens to their trucks on the road and virtually no understanding of how security is actually provided. When HNT contractors self-reported to the military that they were being extorted by warlords for protection payments for safe passage and that these payments were ‘funding the insurgency,’ they were largely met with indifference and inaction.”

“The principal private security subcontractors on the HNT contract are warlords, strongmen, commanders, and militia leaders who compete with the Afghan central government for power and authority. Providing ‘protection’ services for the U.S. supply chain empowers these warlords with money, legitimacy, and a raison d’etre for their private armies.”

“HNT contractors warned the Department of Defense about protection payments for safe passage to no avail. In meetings, interviews, e-mails, white papers, and PowerPoint presentations, many HNT prime contractors self-reported to military officials and criminal investigators that they were being forced to make ‘protection payments for safe passage’ on the road. While military officials acknowledged receiving the warnings, these concerns were never appropriately addressed.”

The latter finding can be glimpsed as early as 2007 in an otherwise sunny report by retired U.S. Army Colonel Clark Hall, a logistics consultant. He notes that contractors “use hired guns, as deemed appropriate,” and one company “hires particularly ‘hardened’ security forces that fight back when attacked ” and :

“Drivers sometimes are stopped by unauthorized ‘toll collectors.’ This issue is a major irritant for carriers and their drivers.”

 Warlords and insurgents are not the only Afghan shakedown artists:

“Some of the ‘toll collectors’ … are actually members of the Afghan National Police (ANP). That this occurs is outrageous. The Afghan Ministry of Defense and national transportation authorities must work together to bring this lawlessness under control.”

The U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is currently investigating “host-nation trucking” in Afghanistan, according to CNN.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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