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18 Dec, 2020 13:54

Pentagon lost track of over HALF of ‘sensitive’ equipment provided to Afghanistan’s military – watchdog

Pentagon lost track of over HALF of ‘sensitive’ equipment provided to Afghanistan’s military – watchdog

The US military has failed to keep track of assorted “sensitive” devices such as night-vision devices, surveillance systems, and other kit it provided to the Afghan government, a US watchdog has found.

The severe lack of accounting of the military toys provided to Kabul was exposed in a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) tasked with providing so-called end-use monitoring (EUM) needed to ensure the provided equipment was utilized exactly as agreed, but failed to track more than half of the items it should have checked on during the latest 365-day period.

“We determined that CSTC-A did not inventory 60 percent of enhanced EUM-designated defense articles – those considered to contain sensitive technology – between May 2019 and April 2020 because of security constraints and travel limitations,” the report reads.

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The EUM items are required to be checked on each year by the US military officials. Some five percent of them, supposedly still in use by the Afghan forces, have never been inventoried since the 2017 fiscal year. While the US military strives for 100 percent accountability of EUM-listed items, the CSTC-A has openly admitted it would be never able to achieve this goal, the report stated.

According to CSTC-A officials, the command has never met its 100-percent inventory requirement and is unlikely to ever do so, because the security situation in Afghanistan prevents some inventories from taking place.

Apart from the glaring lack of accountability, the watchdog also noted that a lot of equipment provided to the Afghan forces ends up lost, broken and – presumably – stolen very fast. All of the night-vision devices requested back in the 2019 fiscal year have already been destroyed or lost, according to the report.

According to information ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces] units submitted to CSTC-A, 19 of the 48 enhanced EUM-designated night-vision devices for which the ANDSF requested the US government’s approval for end-use changes in FY 2019 were captured by enemy forces, and 29 were recorded as destroyed, damaged, or lost.

SIGAR urged the Pentagon to change its monitoring procedures and make them more fitting for Afghanistan, where the US has waged its war for nearly 20 years. During the endless conflict, the US military has transferred more than $28 billion worth of military equipment to the Afghan government.

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The eye-watering costs, as well as the thousands of soldiers’ lives lost, however, have not yielded any meaningful result for Washington or the Kabul government it backs. Despite years of fighting, their main opponent, the Taliban militant group, controls more than half of the country. While the US was ultimately forced to enter an uneasy peace deal with the group, medium-intensity fighting, as well as frequent terrorist attacks, persist in the war-torn country.

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