Friday, 4 July 2014

Afghan Election Chief Resigns

IEC Chief Election Coordinator - Zia Al Haq Amerkhel

What was initially perceived as a remarkable achievement of democracy, the Afghan elections have since been on a downward spiral threatening the stability of Afghanistan. Following the elections on 5th April, Dr Abdullah secured 45% of the votes and Dr Ashraf Ghani gaining 31%. Having failed to secure an overall majority of 51%, a runoff was decided. The runoff was held on 14th June 2014 and was marred by complaints. On Election Day more than 2000 complaints were recorded by the Independent Elections Complaints Commission (IECC). 

Preliminary reports showed that Ghani was leading by 1.4 million votes. According to his supporters this was expected, asserting that in the first round the candidacy of other Pashtuns figures had divided Ghani’s vote. As early reports of Ghani’s victory quickly spread across the country, Abdullah convened a press conference, in which chief coordinator of the Afghan electoral process Zia Al-Haq Amerkhel was accused of fraud in favour of Ghani, thus casting doubt on the entirety of the election process. Unless the current government took action, Abdullah threatened to contest the results published by the Independent Elections Commission (IEC).

Meanwhile, protests erupted throughout Kabul and the Northern provinces under the red banner of “Movement against Fraud”.  Abdullah called on supporters to stage peaceful rallies. Protestors held signs condemning the IEC and many camped outside Parliament with some members of Parliament even joining in. Addressing the protestors, former Director of Intelligence Amarullah Saleh declared “we must remain peaceful in our path to justice if we want to maintain our integrity”.

Questions were raised as to how Abdullah was able to obtain such confidential information before the release of any results. It is widely known that Abdullah has little confidence in the IEC and his call for peaceful protests would have been validated if it was done so after the election results were announced. Ghani’s supporters further claim that Abdullah’s position is untenable as he would declare results in his favour not to be fraudulent, while he would automatically invalidate any result favouring Ashraf Ghani.

 Ghani supporters emphasis that Abdullah plays the role of a bad loser because if the vote is in his favour there is no discrepancy involved but if the vote is against him he has a tendency to whine and accuse others of fraud. On June 20th, the UN prevented the IEC from broadcasting the election results for fear of igniting further unrest in the country given the current political climate in the country.

Abdullah’s team also released audio tapes which purportedly include recordings of Amerkhel asking several IEC officials in different provinces to "take sheep to the mountains, stuff them and bring them back." Amerkhel is also accused of ordering other IEC officials in the Faryab province to replace Tajik and Hazara elections staff with Pashtuns, Uzbeks and Ismailis, tribes traditionally more supportive of Ghani’s candidacy. With more and more evidence mounting against him, Amerkhel was stopped by Kabul police on Election Day transporting dozens of boxes filled with ballot papers to an unknown location without police escort. 

Amerkhel resigned as chief election coordinator despite denying that the voice heard on the audio tapes was his. He declared “I resigned for the sake of national unity and to bring confidence back to the Election Commission. I take pride in resigning at this critical moment of history”. Individuals from Amerkhel’s inner circle have confirmed that the voice on the recordings was indeed that of Amerkhel, casting even more doubt and suspicion. 

In such fast-paced and hectic developments, it is surprising to see President Karzai has remained overall very passive and has failed to comment on the current situation. President Karzai’s silence looks like an attempt to distance himself from the growing scandal and as a way of postponing the handing over of power. Karzai has been subject to such accusations in the past. Many of Ghani’s Pashtun supporters have hinted at a possible Tajik conspiracy to disturb the course of the elections. 

The Afghan people’s faith in the electoral system seems to have been shaken, the reputation of the Election Commission tarnished and the future of the country in tatters. After 13 years of trying to install democracy, Afghanistan continues to remain deeply divided on ethnic lines. Despite failing to defeat the Taliban, the US will start to withdraw from Afghanistan leaving 9,800 troops after 2014, that number will halve in 2015 and by 2016 only a vestigial force will remain to protect the embassy. With the heavy cost of human lives, a mediocre election and allegations of corruption, all hopes for democracy, meritocracy and national unity seems lost.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Conflict in Afghanistan’s Second Round of Voting

 On June 14 Afghans went to the polls again to vote in the second round of the Presidential Elections. News channels around the world showed images of voters standing in long queues at polling stations to decide the political destiny of the Afghan nation. 

The struggle for the presidency is between former Mujahideen Commander Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, both of whom failed to secure a 50% majority in the first round of the elections. In the first round Abdullah and Ghani gathered 45% and 31% of the votes, leaving Ghani trailing behind by 14%.

Although no statistics have been released by the Independent Election Commission (IEC), according to the media, voting turnout had dropped considerably compared to the previous round. Controversy arose when Yousof Noristani, head of IEC informally estimated the turnout as more than 7 million; an assertion that Dr. Abdullah categorically dismissed, arguing it was merely impossible that the turnout would be higher than in the first round of elections.

President Karzai called on citizens to “come out and vote and determine your country’s destiny”. Karzai has been passive in the run-up to the second round unlike the first round where his tacit support was behind Zalmai Rasoul. He is thought to remain an influential figure in the country after he ceases to hold power.

The secretary of the IEC Zia Al Haq Amarkhel was accused of vote rigging in favour of Ashraf Ghani. He was stopped by Kabul Police while transporting dozens of boxes of filled with ballot papers to an unknown location without police escort. Election laws outline that ballot papers can only be moved with police escort. A scuffle broke out between Amerkhel’s bodyguards and the police when his bodyguards attempted to prevent police from searching the vehicle. Amerkhel rejected the accusations, insisting he was transporting the material to Sorobi, a town east of Kabul where extra ballot papers were requested.

Although such incidents remain isolated, there is speculation that the scuffle was a likely result of ethic and political dissentions as Kabul’s police commander, an ethnic Tajik and supporter of Abdullah, of stopping Amerkhel, a Pashtun and potential supporter of Ghani.

In a news conference on Sunday, Abdullah confident that fraud had been widespread and on-going called for Amarkhel’s suspension from his post and expressed a lack of trust in the transparency of the election Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman claimed that Abdullah’s comments seem to indicate that any results that would not be in his favour would prove to be problematic for him to accept; and denounced Abdullah’s claims the Amerkhel incident was being used to cast a shadow of doubt over the impartiality of the election process. Amarkhel vehemently denied all allegations of vote rigging stating it was a conspiracy against him.

It is clearly evident from these incidents that there is deep mistrust between the parties. The election complaints commission reported a total of 664 complaints from Abdullah, 573 complaints from Ashraf Ghani and 507 complaints from government officials.

Tribalism and ethnicity are important factors in influencing the people’s decision. The sad reality is, tribal loyalties play a huge part and there is no doubt that the election has become ethnically based. The Pashtuns clearly favour Ghani and the Uzbeks, thanks to Ghani’s controversial alliance with General Dostam, favour Ghani too. Tajiks favour Abdullah and the presence of influential Hazara leader Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq has brought Hazara support to the Abdullah camp too.

The Ministry of Interior reported 150 attacks nationwide in the midst of the election process, leaving 10 dead and another 150 injured. Afghan journalists reported higher figures, including the death of 11 policemen, 15 military, 20 civilians and 60 Taliban throughout the country. In many rural areas, fear of the Taliban and the high security threat kept voters away. In the Herat province, eleven men had their index fingers cut off by the Taliban because they were stained with the indelible ink that marked them out as voters.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A message from Nadir

Dear Compatriots, friends and supporters,

Today was a glorious day to mark the end of the 1393 (2014) Afghan presidential and Provisional council elections. Today belonged to the Afghan people, they once again showed resilience in the face of the increased security threats and proved to the world that despite all the challenges that exists in our country, the Afghan people are moving towards a democracy and all the help and sacrifices that has been made has not gone to waste. I am proud to have taken part in this historical elections as an independent candidate and believe that this past six months was one of the greatest lessons in my life. I want to thank all the Afghans who came to see me, who supported me and who welcomed me to far corners of the country. My campaign was different to all the other candidates, I decided to go to the people with open arms. I did not make fancy promises like most politicians, that I knew I could not fulfill, instead I listened to what they had to say, I wanted them to be the stars of our gatherings. I wanted them to feel respected and I always made a point of sitting lower then them so that I could look up to them. I held their hands and let them pour their hearts out, I watched them cry and I laughed with them. In the face of hardship, I tried to give them a ray of hope and I prayed together with them for better days. I wanted to win the hearts and the minds of the people but instead I found that they actually won me over. I experienced the best and possibly the worst in people, I felt the energy and the drive of the youth, I saw the emergence of the brave women who were kept in the dark ages and behind thick walls for far too long, I witnessed the tears of loyalty in old men, who lost the best years of their lives in  three decades of war. I heard of  stories of savagery beyond comprehension that made me cringe and uncomfortable, I saw scares of pain and torture. On the other side of the coin I noticed that going through decades of turmoil has turned  people in to the shrewdest wheelers and dealers, who use every single opportunity to make a gain at any cost. Where moral values have turned into economic one, where loyalty is bought and sold, where promises are made to be broken, where friendships are made for self gain and not respect. It is at times like these where you really get to see the true colors of people. In the past six months I put my life on the line for what I believed in and stood against all odds with very little backing, this was a very powerful experience. I want to thank all of you who have stood by me throughout the whole time and have given me the much needed moral support. I lost some friends and supporters along the way but met and found some wonderful new ones who will stay with me for the long haul. Finally I want to thank all my Afghan brothers and sisters who really supported me from near and far, I believe that we have won today and our journey is about to begin.

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Well Prince Nadir candidacy for President of Afghanistan has certainly created interest. He writes, "the real test is yet to come as the campaign season officially starts on the 2 February 2014".

See this link for the latest news on the Afghan elections: THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Afghanistan's Populist Prince

For those of the readers of this blog who know Prince Nadir - this al Jazeera link may be of interest

On October 6, Prince Nadir announced his candidacy for the 2014 Afghan presidential elections. He is among 11 figures across the political spectrum, who are running for the top job, including three former foreign ministers Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Dr Zalmai Rassoul and Hedayat Arsala, a former World Bank consultant, Ashraf Ghani, and the brother of the incumbent, Qayum Karzai.

With NATO troops set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, whoever follows the current head of state, the affable Hamid Karzai, will inherit the colossal challenges of coping with a crumbling economy, a spikein opium cultivation, deteriorating security conditions and an emboldened, even metastasized insurgency. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013


The candidates for the Afghan elections have been announced, at least one of which, HRH Prince Nadir Naim, is known to members of the NCF.  If you want to like Nadir's facebook page it's at
Following the display of the final list in a fortnight, Presidential runners will be allowed to canvass in the 60 days from 2 February 2014.
Biographies Of Ten Candidates For Afghan Presidential Elections

The following report was sent to us by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) and is based on a Pajhwok report

On October 22, the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan released a list of 10 candidates for the country's presidential election scheduled for April 5, 2014. The commission disqualified 16 other candidates for not meeting requirements, but they have 20 days to appeal against their disqualification. The rules required the candidates to provide signatures and voter ID numbers of 100,000 Afghans from all states in support of their candidacy.

Under the Afghan constitution, President Hamid Karzai is not entitled to run for election again, as a president is barred from running for a third consecutive term. Among the top candidates are Dr. Zalmai Rassoul and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. President Karzai's brother is also in the fray.
Excerpts from the biographies of the ten candidates who appear on the preliminary list are given below, as reported by the Afghan website Pajhwok:[1]

1) Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai –Administrator, Architect Of Bonn Plan
"Born into an influential Afghan family in 1949, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai spent his early life in the central province of Logar.  He completed his primary and secondary education at the Habibia High School in Kabul. He travelled to Lebanon to attend the American University in Beirut and returned to Afghanistan in 1974 to teach Afghan Studies and Anthropology at Kabul University before winning a government scholarship to pursue a master's degree in Anthropology at New York's Columbia University. He received his PhD from Columbia University with a doctoral thesis (Production and Domination: Afghanistan, 1747-1901) and was immediately invited to teach at the University of California, Berkeley (1983) and then at Johns Hopkins University (1983-1991).
"In 1991, Ahmadzai joined the World Bank (WB) as lead anthropologist, advising on the human dimension to economic programs. Following the ouster of the Taliban from power in late-2001, he was asked to serve as special advisor to Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN secretary general's special envoy to Afghanistan. In that capacity, he worked on the design, negotiation, and implementation of the Bonn Agreement, which set out the roadmap for transition to a new government. During the interim administration, he served on a pro bono basis as chief advisor to then-interim President Karzai. He worked on preparation of the Loya Jirgas (grand assemblies) that elected President Karzai and approved the Constitution.
"As finance minister during the transitional administration, he issued a new currency in record time; computerized operations of treasury, introduced the budget as the central instrument of policy, centralized revenue [collection system] and instituted regular reporting to the cabinet, the people of Afghanistan and international stakeholders as a tool of transparency.  He won the Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan Medal, the highest civilian award in the country. He was recognized as the Best Finance Minister of Asia in 2003 by Emerging Markets. From March 31 to April 2004, he presented a seven-year program of public investment, securing Afghanistan's future at an international conference in Berlin attended by 65 finance and foreign ministers."

2) Dr. Zalmai Rassoul – Foreign Minister, Former National Security Advisor
Dr. Zalmai Rassoul
"Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, born in 1953 in Kabul, is a son of Dr. Abdul Qayyum Rassoul. He attended LycĂ©e Istiqlal where he graduated as valedictorian before travelling to France to study on a scholarship at the Paris Medical School. He received his MD in 1973. Rassoul has been serving as minister of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since he received a confidence vote from the Wolesi Jirga (Afghan National Assembly) in January 2010.
"Prior to his appointment as minister, he served as national security advisor, a post he held from June 2002 to January 2009. He played a constructive role in bringing activities of security institutions in line with the country's foreign policy. Included in his numerous responsibilities were conducting national threat assessments and the national security policy. Rassoul accompanied President Hamid Karzai on official visits since the establishment of the interim administration in 2001. An ethnic Pashtun, he remains unmarried and is fluent in Dari, Pashtu, French, English, and Italian and has working knowledge of Arabic. He has written multiple articles and papers on medical issues in European and American magazines.
"Karzai nominated Rassoul as minister of civil aviation and was unanimously approved by the Cabinet in March 2002. Under his leadership, the aviation sector was revived after many years of UN sanctions against the Taliban and Afghanistan. Rassoul played an important role in Afghanistan's readmission to the International Civil Aviation Organization. He is one of the presidential candidates, with Ahmad Zia Massoud – head of National Front – his first vice president and Habiba Sarabi – former governor of Bamyan province – as his second VP."

3) Engineer Qutbuddin Hilal – Independent, Links With Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan
"A son of Maulvi Zaheeruddin, Qutbuddin Hilal was born in 1952 in the Zazai Maidan district of Khost province. He graduated from Kabul Military Academy in 1970 and pursued his higher education in construction engineering. He completed his bachelor's degree from the Engineering Academy in 1975. Hilal served as an engineer in the planning and designing branch of the Defence Ministry until 1978. He was imprisoned at the notorious Pul-e-Charkhi prison on charges of anti-state activities. After his release, he fled to Pakistan.
"Hilal then joined the Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by Engineer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He headed HIA's political committee and served as party chief for Paktia province. He later became head of the military commission, tasked with uniting jihadi organizations besides heading the leadership council after the collapse of the Dr. Najibullah government in 1980.
"He fluently speaks Pashtu, Dari, Arabic, English and Urdu. Hilal twice served as first vice president in 1993 and 1996. A member of HIA, he filed nomination papers for the presidential elections as an independent candidate with Inayatullah Inayat as his first vice president and Mohammad Ali Nabizada as his second VP. He is married and has six children."

4) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah – Former Foreign Minister
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
"Dr. Abdullah Abdullah is the son of Ghulam Mohiuddin Khan, who was selected as a senator from Kandahar province in the last year of kingdom. Born in 1959 in Kabul, Dr. Abdullah received education at the Ghazi Mohammad Ayub Khan School and went on to graduate from the Naderia High School in 1976. In 1977, he got admission to the Kabul University's Faculty of Medicine, where he completed his training in ophthalmology in 1983. He subsequently served as a specialist at the Noor Eye Hospital in Kabul.
"In 1984, he went to Pakistan to take care of refugee families at the Sayed Jamal-ud-Din Hospital. The following year, he joined the Afghan Freedom Fighters and served as caretaker in charge of health affairs for the Panjsher Valley resistance front. It was there that Abdullah became an advisor to Ahmad Shah Massoud. From 1992 to 1996, he served as a spokesperson for Afghanistan's Defense Ministry and subsequently as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Abdullah was in charge of foreign affairs for the government-in-exile of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, led by President Burhanuddin Rabbani from 1999 until the collapse of the Taliban regime.
"After the Taliban's ouster from power, Abdullah continued as foreign minister of the transitional government. Approved by the Grand Assembly (Loya Jirga), and within the first elected government, he continued as foreign minister until 2006. Dr. Abdullah is married and has three daughters and a son. He is fluent in Dari, Pashtu and English, and is proficient in Arabic and French as well."

5) Prof. Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf – Former Jihadi Leader, Now Founder Of University And Radio, TV Channels
"He was elected as a member of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, from Kabul. He won 7,158 votes. Prof. Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf was born in 1944 in the Paghman district of Kabul province. Belonging to the Pashtun tribe, he speaks Dari, Arabic, and English fluently. Sayyaf holds a bachelor's degree in religious studies from Kabul University, and a Masters from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.
"He is the founder and director of Dawat Private University and is also the head of Dawat Radio and Television.  Sayyaf is an influential Islamic scholar and former jihadi commander. Previously, he was a member of the Afghan-based Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, an organization with links to the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood. He served as a professor at the Sharia Faculty of Kabul University until 1973 before migrating to Pakistan following a failed coup against the regime of that time. Subsequently, he played a key role in the jihad against the Soviets and the civil war in Kabul.
"Currently, Sayyaf is the head of Hezb-i-Tanzim Dawat-i-Islami Afghanistan (the Afghanistan Islamic Invitation Party). Sayyaf was elected to parliament in 2005. He is a runner for the 2014 presidential election with Mohammad Ismail Khan, a former jihadi leader his first vice-president and Irfanullah Ifran as his second VP."

6) Abdul Rahim Wardak – Former Defense Minister
"Abdul Rahim Wardak was sacked by the Wolesi Jirga as defense minister in late 2012. Later, the president appointed him as acting defense minister, a slot that he resigned later on. A son of Abdul Ghani, he was born in Wardak province in 1944. After graduating from the Habibia High School, he joined the Military Academy in Kabul. He completed higher education in the United States and Ali Nasr Academy in Cairo, Egypt.
"Wardak served as a lecturer at the Military Academy. In 2004, he was named as defense minister. He had political affiliation with the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan led by Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani during the jihad era [of the 1980s]. He served as head of the armed wing of Mahaz-i-Milli during jihad against the Soviet forcesHe was also commander-in-chief of the Mahaz-i-Milli’s guerrilla front and military advisor to the political party.
"After the collapse of the communist regime, Wardak was appointed as chief of armed forces and head of the Military Training Commission.  He speaks Pashto, Dari, and English fluently. After receiving the Ghazi Amanullah Khan Medal, Wardak was appointed as senior security advisor. He is a presidential candidate, with Shah Abdul Ahad Afzali, a former MP, his first vice president and Syed Hussain Anwari his second VP."

7) Abdul Qayyum Karzai – Elder Brother Of President Hamid Karzai
"A son of Abdul Ahad Karzai, Abdul Qayyum Karzai is the elder brother of President Hamid Karzai. He was born in 1957 in the Karz locality of Kandahar. His father, the Popalzai tribe head, was elected as a parliamentarian during King Zahir Shah's rule.
"Qayyum Karzai has six brothers and one sister. He did his graduation in Political Science from a university in the United States. He served as MP from Kandahar in the previous term of National Assembly. But he resigned the position after criticism of his continued absence from the National Assembly.
"Qayyum Karzai has his own business and spends most of his time living in the United States.  He is also one of the potential presidential runners with Wahidullah Shahrani his first vice president and Ibrahim Qasimi his second VP."

8) Mohammad Shafiq (Gul Agha Sherzai) – Nangarhar Governor, Leading Businessman
"Mohammad Shafiq, popularly known as Gul Agha Sherzai, is a son of Haji Abul Sherzai. He was born in the Barakzai area of Kandahar province in 1954. His family name is Mohammad Shafiq but he was called Gul Agha Sherzai by his father. Sherzai graduated from the Mashraqi High School in Kandahar and later completed his education at the Teacher Training Institution.
"Sherzai started working at the Kandahar revenue department in 1963 before taking up a job in Spin Boldak district. As a mujahideen commander, Sherzai helped topple the Dr. Najibullah government. He had to migrate to the Quetta city of Pakistan several times, running his private business there. 
"During the mujahideen government [in the early 1990s], Sherzai was appointed as Kandahar governor. Subsequently, he served as public works and transport minister. In 2006, he was appointed as Nangarhar governor. Sherzai owns the Jamal Baba Company that has a presence in most parts of the country. His sons are also managing a variety of businesses. Sherzai speaks Pashtu, Dari, Urdu and English languages. He was a member of the Mahaz-e-Milli Jihadi faction."

9) Sardar Mohammad Nader Naeem – Served Under King Zahir Shah
"Sardar Mohammad Nader Naeem is a son of Ustad Aziz Naeem. He was born in 1965 in Kabul. He is the maternal grandson of Sardar Dawood Khan, the former president of Afghanistan. Sardar Naeem did his bachelor's degree in computer sciences from one of the universities in London. He served as chief of staff to King Zahir Shah.
"He has been living in Afghanistan over the past eight years. In 2012, he launched a political campaign known as Woles Ghag (Voice of the Nation) and visited several parts of the country to convey his message to the people.
"He is a member of Sardar Dawood Khan's family. He filed his nomination papers for the presidential elections as an independent candidate. Taj Mohammad Akbar is his first vice president and Azizullah Poya as his second VP. He speaks Pashto, Dari and English languages."

10) Hidayat Amin Arsala – Served As Senior Advisor To President Karzai
"A son of Abdullah Amin Arsala, he was born in 1941 to an influential Afghan family in Kabul. He received his BA degree in Economics and Political Science from Kabul University. He completed his PhD in Economics from a university in the United States. He was the first Afghan to join the World Bank (WB) in 1969 and worked there for 18 years.
"In 1987, he joined the mujahideen in fighting against the Soviet occupation. He served as finance minister in the interim government from 1989-1992. For a short period in 1993, he served as foreign minister. After the collapse of the Taliban regime [in 2001], Arsala was chosen as commerce minister at the Bonn Conference and endorsed by the Emergency Loya Jirga as vice chairman of the interim government.
"He also headed the Independent Commission of Administrative Reforms, the National Statistics Commission and the Economic Cooperation Committee, as well as member of the Security Council. For years, he served as senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai before resigning the job to contest the next presidential elections. He was also a contender in the previous presidential ballot, but had to step down in favor of Karzai. He has selected General Khudaidad and Safia Siddiqui as his first and second deputies respectively."

[1] (Afghanistan), October 26, 2013. The original English of the report has been mildly edited for clarity.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Exporting mismanagement to Afghanistan

Things go from bad to worse it would seem. Note this article sent in by Princess Basmah:

The purchase of spare parts by the U.S. military is a big business, with more than $25 billion worth of screws and widgets kept in storerooms. It is also a notoriously sloppy one. Pentagon auditors have found that, due to poor bookkeeping, the military services regularly buy parts that they already have plenty of. Due to poor oversight, moreover, they frequently pay too much for them.
A partly-plastic roller wheel for an aircraft ramp worth a bit more than $7 is billed to the Pentagon at $1,678. “Commander” seats for Stryker armored vehicles are purchased long after they became obsolete. A 38-year supply of parts is stocked for an aircraft with a much shorter lifespan. “Do we have enormous warehouses sitting around with stuff that no one is going to use?” asked a senior defense official who briefed reporters over breakfast on these and other episodes earlier this year. “Yes.”
Now, in an act of generosity, the Pentagon has successfully exported its spare parts mismanagement to Afghanistan. It seems that a multinational, U.S.-led military office called the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan spent $370 million from 2004 through the middle of this year on spare parts for vehicles operated by the Afghan National Army. But last year, it confirmed that it could not account for $230 million worth of the spare parts, according to an Oct. 16 report by the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction.