28 December 2012, 18:35

MIA: 201 million dollars’ worth of gas receipts in Afghanistan for NATO aid

MIA: 201 million dollars’ worth of gas receipts in Afghanistan for NATO aid

NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) are experiencing amnesia. Their forces set up in Afghanistan reported spending 201 million dollars on gasoline. Still, no documentation is available which would prove this to be factual. On December 20, a government watchdog group pointed this out and clearly the gaffe is concerning.

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko could not account for the missing money which was to buy fuel for the Afghan Army in 2010 and 2011. The missing receipts were from March 2010 until February 2011. Over a dozen current and former CSTC-A and Kabul Regional Contacting Center officials were contacted.

Sopko mentions in his report that 2 CSTC-A fuel ordering personnel shredded fuel related records, mostly “Material Receipt and Inspection Reports”. The duo remembered scanning the papers and destroying the originals but made clear they had already been authorized to do so by their supervisors.

At the same time, another supervisor couldn’t bring to mindmaking copies or discarding of them properly. While a second supervision recollects allowing the scan he also did not know where the original documents ended up. To sum up, the officers believed the scanned papers were stored in an electronic location but failed to declarethe exact place in which they were kept.

A letter Sopko had received back in September of this year had warned of a coalition force personnel in Afghanistan who had improperly shredded 5 years’ worth of receipts. Luckily, more than half of the data was recovered but the rest was nowhere to be found.

According to Public Integrity’s article published on the same matter at hand, this in turn blocked the ability of auditors to assess how many resources were actually being consumed by the army of Afghanistan.

The ordeal is the elephant in the room. As Americans unwind from Christmas and gear up for New Year’s, their minds are in happier places, thinking of the opportunities which await them in 2013. In addition, the media is already pushing the Fiscal Cliff fiasco down our throats, which has a very crucial expiration date. Yet, millions of dollars in receipts are lost with no explanation attached to them.

As stated in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perception Index, Afghanistan stands to have the highest corruption in the world, even more so than Russia. Therefore, a scandal of this proportion should come as no surprise, however in a country trying to get back on their feet – this is a tragedy in and of itself.

Meanwhile, internet users have not shown any drastic outcry for answers as to where this money really went and why such a huge mistake happened. Twitter has snatched onto this article but still hasn’t received the attention it so rightfully deserves.

On Christmas Day, From A Citizen tweeted “HappyHolidays. This is how 1,000s of top GovtOfficials rip off America & leave us w/big bills paid off w/austerity” with a link to the story about the missing receipt. Another user who goes by the name of Board Solutions wrote “Your tax dollars at work” with a link to the Nation of Change website – relating to the poor monetary monitoring which had taken place.

Multiple steps need to be taken in order for this degree of mishap never to occur again. Firstly, a thorough inspection of all employees working in this sector should take place, and a better sense of accountability must be implemented. Should there be another ambush in the budget, it will only taint the reputation of the Department of Defense and burn a hole in the taxpayers’ wallets. The year of the snake, 2013, had better not have a double meaning. We’ve dealt with enough sly criminals and frankly our economy can’t handle snakes in the grass any longer.

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