Don’t get me wrong… the McChrystal demotion is huge and the underlying mutual disrespect taking place between the White House and the military command telling but much more is going on and it’s not getting the proper coverage:
On March 27, 2009, President Obama announced his fated “AfPak” strategy to the world, declaring that America would disrupt, dismantle, and defeat the Al Qaeda network. However, the Obama Administration, in announcing an increase of 21,000 forces to the Afghan theatre failed to properly coordinate the initial surge with its supply command. Following an in-depth, six-month investigation, what became clear on Tuesday was that the initial contract to the companies involved in the Afghan Host Nation Trucking effort was for $360 million. This contract quickly ballooned to a $2.16 billion concession. The supply chain for the Afghan war effort, then, was improperly tooled for the troop surge announcements of 2009 and were never remedied by the military commanders overseeing the players involved in the massive logistics operation.
Ultimately, through the whir of media discussions about the implications of The Runaway General, what the American people should recognize in the aftermath of the bombshell report is that the results of the investigation of Afghan Host Nation Trucking, which provides nearly 70% of all U.S. supplies to the theatre, revealed a serious DoD failure in the Afghan contingency operation.
The findings of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs investigation were released at 10:30pmEST Monday evening in a report entitled Warlord, Inc: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan.
As the Subcommittee Chairman John F. Tierney’s opening statement notes, “The findings of this report range from sobering to shocking.”
According to the report, “The Department of Defense is grossly out of compliance with applicable regulations and has no visibility into the operations of the private security companies that are subcontractors on the HNT contract.”
Warlord, Inc. details that the security for the U.S. supply chain is “principally” generated by a warlord protection racket. This protection racket is a potential source of funding for the Taliban, fuels corruption in Afghanistan and undermines counterinsurgency operations. More disturbingly, while communications to this effect were acknowledged by officials in command, all warnings to the DoD of the activities and shakedowns regarding the forced extortion racket were not “appropriately addressed.”
The seven recommendations that were put forward in the report called for more direct oversight of operations by the DoD, an internal review of the negative impacts of the HNT protection racket on Afghanistan, a re-drafting of the terms of contracts to guarantee subcontractor transparency, and the conducting of a complete survey to determine the actual trucking capacity of the DoD.
Also, per the findings of the report, the role of the Afghan National Security forces on future highway security activities and the corrupting effects at play in the outsourcing of supply chain security in Afghanistan should both be analyzed by all components of the U.S. national security apparatus and NATO.
By “fueling unaccountable warlords and funding parallel power structures,” Warlord, Inc. finds, “the United States undercuts efforts to establish popular confidence in a credible and sustainable Afghan government.”
In this frame, the true back story of the Afghan strategy deliberations in the Obama war room this afternoon has little to do with General McChrystal and everything to do with the fact that the Department of Defense has dropped the ball in its support of the effort to legitimize the Karzai government by knowingly outsourcing the U.S. military and civilian supply chains to a protection racket that fuels the insurgency.
The author of the piece goes on to say:
Upon a clear-eyed assessment, the American people will in time realize that Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates should have been on the chopping block, today, not General McChrystal.
It’s a sobering read that should be read in its entirety, one that I believe is yet more evidence that victory, as victory was once defined, is no longer the goal of those in charge. The lives of America’s finest are once again being sacrificed on the altar of politics and compromise and I find it all sickening.
H/T to Crush at BlackFive who opines cogently:
If our government desires victory in Afghanistan – and I don’t think they do – wouldn’t it be better to have convoys that we could trust delivering our supplies? American military truck drivers may cost more, but they are exponentially more reliable. Besides, I would rather my tax dollars go to loyal Americans rather than to corrupt warlords and the Taliban. Full victory, nothing else.
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.