U.S. Military Probed: Bought Afghans $468M in Planes, Sold as $32K Scrap



The U.S. Air Force is being probed over a financial snafu. The department reaped a mere $32,000 in scrap for 16 aircrafts that cost $486 million.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

At issue is a fleet of Italian-built C-27A cargo planes that were procured for the Afghan Air Force, which has a shortage of air-lifters to haul troops and equipment. The Afghans began receiving the twin-engine aircraft, also known as the G222, in 2009, but the planes were grounded for several months in 2012 because of a lack of adequate maintenance and spare parts.

Including maintenance costs, the Air Force's total tab was $596 million before officials decided to park the planes, and ultimately sell them for scrap at six cents a pound.

"The G222 fleet was unable to fulfill mission needs, a decision was made to discontinue the program in December 2012, and the contract was allowed to expire in March 2013," said Marine Corps Maj. Brad Avots, a Defense Department spokesman. "The Department of Defense recently completed disposal of aircraft located in Kabul, Afghanistan to minimize impact on drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan."

Couldn't they have done anything else? That's what government watchdog Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko wants to know. "I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars," he wrote in a letter last week that was made public yesterday.

Reuters reports:

Sopko also asked if any other parts of the planes had been sold before they were destroyed by the Defense Logistics Agency.

Sopko's office has been investigating the matter since December 2013 after numerous non-profit groups and military officials raised questions about funds wasted on the planes. …

In an interview last year with NBC News, Sopko said it was unclear if the incident was criminal fraud or mismanagement, but the waste was not an isolated incident in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon's inspector general has also investigated the issue, which the non-profit group Project on Government Oversight (POGO) calls "a shining example of the billions wasted in Afghanistan."

Similarly, billions of dollars-worth of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles are being scrapped in Afghanistan.

Such issues of financial mismanagement by the military remain relevant in light of the rising price of fighting ISIS in Iraq, and the Obama administration's deal with Afghanistan to keep around 10,000 American troops in the country after the war officially "ends," and that "U.S. funding for Afghanistan [will be] up to $8 billion annually for military and other assistance for at least the next three years," according to The Washington Post