John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), asked U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in a letter on Nov. 25 about $150 million that was approved by the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO). The letter was released to the public on Dec. 3.
“SIGAR’s preliminary review indicates that TFBSO leadership rented specially furnished, privately owned ‘villas’ and hired contractors to provide 24-hour building security, food services, and bodyguards for TFBSO staff and visitors traveling in country,” Sopko wrote in the letter, according to RT.com. The TFBSO is run by the Pentagon.
Sopko added that the U.S. government could have saved “tens of millions of dollars” by having TFBSO employees live on U.S. military bases in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2014.
The $150 million accommodations provided housing for only "five to 10" employees, according to Sopko. It would reportedly cost only $1.8 million to house 10 employees at the U.S. Embassy.
TFBSO’s first director Paul Brinkley (pictured) said that the luxury accommodations in Afghanistan were supposed to show private companies “that they could set up operations in Afghanistan themselves without needing military support," the letter added.
Sopko also mentioned that TFSBO had spent $43 million on a gas station that could have been built for $500,000. In response, TFSBO told Sopko that it “no longer possess[es] the personnel expertise to address these questions.”
TFBSO was supposed to be stabilizing the economies of Iraq and Afghanistan from 2010 to 2014 while millions of American taxpayers were losing their homes and their jobs.
In 2010, a whopping 2,871,891 U.S. properties were in foreclosure at the peak of the housing crash, Reuters noted. A total of 1,117,426 properties were in foreclosure proceedings in 2014. In 2010, unemployment was between 9 and 10 percent.
In response to the report of massive waste, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Joe Sowers said in a statement that they have received the letter and will respond, according to RT.com.
Sources: RT.com, Reuters, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via Google Public Data Explorer / Photo Credit: U.S. Dept of Defense/Wikimedia