The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a report released on Thursday says the US government’s 17-year effort to stabilize parts of war-torn Afghanistan has mostly failed.
The report finds that much of the $4.7 billion USD spent on programs to stabilize areas cleared of insurgents has been largely wasted - some of it siphoned off by corrupt officials, some of it paying for projects that did more harm than good.
According to the report, the US government has appropriated about $126 billion to rebuild the country, most of it to train and equip security forces.
“The large sums of stabilization dollars the United States devoted to Afghanistan in search of quick gains often exacerbated conflicts, enabled corruption, and bolstered support for insurgents,” the report says.
The report follows another issued this week by the Pentagon’s inspector general that found little progress in providing security for the Afghan people.
The report finds that bad strategy and policies in Afghanistan have led to billions wasted, more than 2,200 US troops killed and a dysfunctional country left behind.
“These two decisions - to prioritize the most dangerous parts of the country and to draw down forces on timelines unrelated to conditions on the ground - had a profound and harmful impact on countless downstream decisions regarding stabilization planning, staffing, and programming,” the report says.
The huge flows of money into the impoverished country had the opposite effect of what was intended, the report says.
“By fueling corruption and the population's disillusionment with its government, the coalition undermined the very government it sought to legitimize and drove support for the insurgency,” the report says.
Of the $4.7 billion spent, $2.4 billion went to programs administered by USAID and $2.3 billion was spent on the Pentagon's Commander's Emergency Response Program, the report says.
“Our analysis of the implementation of CERP suggests senior policymakers devoted money to a program with no overarching strategy, and without effective systems for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data,” the report says. “The result was a program that spent $2.3 billion in a profoundly underdeveloped economy with unknown effects.”
There are at least 15,000 US troops in the country.