I have previously written about the waste of billions of dollars by the government without any significant discipline for government officials. We have become accustomed to reports of unimaginable corruption and waste in Afghanistan from bags of money delivered to President Karzai to constructing huge buildings to be immediately torn down to buying aircraft that cannot be used. The common element to the stories is the absence of any reported prosecution or even discipline for those responsible. You can simply waste hundreds of millions of dollars and continue in your government position. This week’s outrage comes from a report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Thus, USAid can pay a $300,000 charge for 600 gallons of diesel fuel at $500/gallon but there is no punishment, let alone a prosecution. In the meantime, small programs for as little as $1 million domestically are being cut while we gush billions in waste. We can now add a half-billion dollars spent on refurbishing aircraft for the Afghan Air Force that have been left to rot unused in Kabul and Germany. Ironically, the aircraft are called Spartan but there was nothing Spartan about the wasteful spending of the Pentagon which may now seek to destroy the aircraft.
What is interesting is that, as with previous stories of wasteful purchases of Russian and Italian aircraft, the 20 G222s (C-27A) — military transport aircraft built in Italy — did not even bring money to U.S. companies or jobs to U.S. citizens. We then spent rough $500 million to refurbish the foreign aircraft that would never fly.
The Defense Department in 2008 set out to give the G222s (C-27A) to the Afghans and contracted with Alenia Aermacchi North America. It then spent $486 million on the program but, due to negligent management, the planes flew only 234 of the 4,500 “required hours” and another $200 million would be needed to buy the outstanding spare parts. However, some of those parts were described as “unavailable.” The Pentagon then killed the contract and decided to go with “alternate aircraft.”
Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, top acquisition official in the U.S. Air Force, now says that the planes were never particularly well suited for the environment and will likely have to be “destroyed and moved out of the country.”
Once again, a kid in Detroit can go to jail for hot-wiring a car worth two grand but Defense officials can just toss away a half of a billion dollars without serious punishment. We are currently borrowing 46 cents of every dollar and shutting down scientific and environmental programs. Yet, we continue our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and waste billions in an uninterrupted gushing of public money, not to mention our people who continue to be killed or injured in these conflicts. What is left would be a farce if it were at all funny.