John Kerry

FAIL: State Dept. Spent $3.6 Million on Afghan Goat Carcass Game, and That's Just the Start of It


Buzkashi, the national sport of Afghanistan, is a fascinating game that's sort of like a cross between polo and rugby, except that instead of a ball you play with a headless goat carcass. I recommend you watch it sometime, and apparently, the State Department does, too.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko suspects something is "seriously wrong" and wants to know what the hell is going on. Earlier this month he sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking about a bizarre boondoggle in which the State Department paid millions to film the sport:

The contract originally specified five trucks at a cost of $6 million (three satellite/microwave television broadcast trucks at the unit price of $1,786,779, two Ford ES350 trucks at a unit price of $157,300 and various communications equipment). The primary use of the vehicles was for "live sporting events, such as Buzkashi, Soccer, Cricket and other sports."2 On September 16, 2013, the contract was amended to require only 3 trucks, at a cost of $3.6 million (one satellite/microwave television broadcast truck at the unit price of $1,589,557 and two Ford ES350 trucks at a unit price of $568,062).3 SIGAR has been told that the contractor received unspecified compensation for costs incurred under the original contract.


The trucks were supposed to be delivered way back in August 2011. In fact, they didn't arrive until September 2014, and Sopko's got photographic proof that they're just sitting there covered in tarp. Sopko also wants to know why the "two Ford ES350 trucks (originally priced at $157,300 each) more than tripled in price, to $568,062 each under the subsequent contract modification."

SIGAR brought the mess to light on Friday by shaming the State Department on Twitter about it.

This is a case of the U.S. using soft power, trying to co-opt and promote Afghanistan's culture, whereas the Taliban hated and banned Buzkashi. But, why did it have to cost so much? People already film Buzkashi. C'mon, it's 2014, and just like everything else it's all over Youtube. Presumably, most of them have cheaper equipment, whether it's traditional film gear or the increasingly inexpensive high quality tools like cellphone cameras. Millions of dollars spent on an obscure sport in of a mere 30 million people seems undue, especially since there are bigger issues like opium production being at an all-time high.

Sopko's got a lot of problems on his plate trying to reconstruct Afghanistan. He's also investigating why the U.S. military spent about $500 million on cargo planes for Afghan troops. The planes were hardly ever used and then they were sold for $32,000 in scrap

NEXT: Marines, NATO Troops Exit Southern Afghanistan

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  1. I came here expecting to complain that ‘Nothing left to cut’ was not the first comment.

    Oh well. I will do it. *sigh*

    Nothing. Left. To. Cut.

    1. The cupboard is bare.

      1. It’s just play money to them.

    2. At least they were not researchign obesety in lesbian goats…

      1. But enough about Hillary

  2. I agree with you, Zee. Let the locals film the Buzkashi matches, and have the State Dept pay to send Joe Buck over there to provide play-by-play and color commentary.

    1. And Bob Costas, and Bob Costas’s eye.

        1. OK, how about Bryant Gumbel?

          (though I don’t see how that scene gets Costas a lifetime pass – the scene didn’t even include the inimitable Stephen Root!!)

          1. I’m fine with sending Gumbel. In fact I would send almost any national sports broadcaster without batting an eye.

            Costas has a good scene with Root during the credits of that episode. Skip the video ahead to 21:00.

  3. I blame Bush.

    1. War on wimmen!

      Oh wait, you meant George Bush. Carry on.

  4. International diplomacy… as we understand it from watching Rambo 3!!!!

  5. The contract originally specified five trucks at a cost of $6 million…

    So this was actually $2.4 million Created or Saved by the thrift and brilliance of the State Department!

  6. C’mon Zenon. You ask why it had to be done at all, and if it did why did it cost so much.

    It didn’t have to be done, and it didn’t have to cost anything. This is theft, thats all. Someone is connected and got a bullshit contract to do nothing. It is a boondoggle. That is what our government has become, a boondoggle by an armed gang.

    The afghan war should have lasted three months. We should have bombed the taliban until they were exterminated and come home. But, that doesn’t allow for the trillion dollars fleeced from the taxpayers and given to cronies under pretenses like this?

    If you think I am too cynical , think again. I am probably not cynical enough.

    1. Almost certainly, some well-connected fellow got to book the sale of the trucks way back in 2011, didn’t have to deliver them until now, and made a little extra money off that fact.


  8. We need these cameras — my Fantasy Buzkashi team got killed this weekend because the coverage is so terrible. How was I supposed to know that Babrak Amin wasn’t active?

    1. my Fantasy Buzkashi team got killed this weekend

      And by that you mean actually killed, right?

      1. Well, droned, yes.

    2. Guys, these jokes are too good. I can’t do my job when I’m laughing this hard.

    3. You have a fantasy Bukkake team?

  9. I don’t understand. Does the winner have sex with the goat, or is it the losing team?

    1. It depends on the league. In Tribal League games, the losers don’t get to have sex with any goats at all.

      1. They should call the CDC for advice on that.

        1. There’s plenty of room in the CDC budget.

    2. Warty told me that sex with the goat IS winning.

      1. He has been known to not try his best on the field.

        1. It’s a common confusion over the prize for winning at buzkashi…both the winners and the losers get to have sex with the goats. Winners choose whether they get to break the goats in or get sloppy seconds.

          So technically there are no losers at buzkashi. 🙂

  10. “trying to reconstruct Afghanistan”


    I think it is a little silly to focus on tens of millions wasted on the Goat Polo game when we’re clearly in it for the Big Bucks

    “During 2012, John Sopko’s first year on the job as inspector general for Afghan reconstruction, about $7 billion of the $10.6 billion in spending analyzed was identified as waste. “We’ve built schools that have fallen down, clinics that there are no doctors for; we’ve built roads that are falling apart. It’s massive,” Sopko told the French news agency AFP. “We spent too much money, too fast, in too small a country with little oversight.””

    The absurdity is that everyone agrees its a complete disaster; however, no one seems to be willing to turn the ship around, cut the spending and be done with it.

    Its waste like this that allows other multibillion$ boondoggles (a la Ethanol) to continue. by contrast, what’s $5billion for American farmers? A bargain!

    1. It’s really reminiscent of North Korean central planning.

  11. the U.S. military spent about $500 million on cargo planes for Afghan troops. The planes were hardly ever used and then they were sold for $32,000 in scrap.

    Dr. Paul Krugman, PhD approves.

    1. I hope they replaced the windows in the planes before scrapping them.

    2. Broken cockpit theory.

  12. To be perfectly honest, at this point funding an International Buzkashi League would probably be more cost-effective then the money spent on trying to get rid of the opium trade.

    1. I thought we were trying to help them? Why would you want to get rid of the only cash crop they have? Why do you hate the Afghani children?

      1. I’m criticizing the stupid amount of money spent on the U.S. anti-drug policy in Afghanistan, I don’t actually support it. If Afghani kids want to become mad hustlers to get those phat stacks they can go nuts.

        1. Me and my friend Ragnar are working on a little plan to store it at the bottom of the ocean.

  13. They could have just shown Rambo III which has a scene where he plays the game. Wouldn’t cost anything. Plus you have all of the free testosterone that comes with a Rambo flick.

    1. They could also show the opening Thai stick fighting scene for a true multi-cultural experience

  14. there are bigger issues like opium production being at an all-time high.

    Sounds like a feature to me, not a bug.

    1. It would even a bigger feature if we eliminated the government.

  15. First, let’s be honest. This isn’t about (re)building the country so much as using those projects to buy off people. They may not want the school, road or clinic, but they do want the jobs and money from the project. They are smart enough to realize that in most cases we can’t just give them suitcases full of cash, so they have to put on a little show of doing something in exchange for the money.

    The other dimension is that well-connected contractors need paying off, too. Perhaps the payment for those mysteriously inflated trucks are actually payoffs for black projects with a truck or two thrown in to make things at least plausible.

    Finally, it’s not our fault if they can’t provide teachers for the schools, doctors for the clinics, etc.

  16. I’m a little confused why there are two pictures of rotting goat carcasses on this article.

    1. I only see one rotting goat carcass, and one Mr Ed stock photo.

  17. except that instead of a ball you play with a headless goat carcass.

    I’m sure Jeffersonian democracy will be taking root there any day now.

    1. I just laughed out loud.

  18. Apparently I’m in the wrong line of work.


    Well, except our TF S-4……..m-airfield

  20. Didn’t Sylvester Stallone already do this for them?

  21. It turns out, the whole war in Afghanistan was the biggest imminent domain in history for a (buzkashi) stadium.

    1. Eminent
      I’m a nint
      you’re a nint

      1. Seems pretty important, thank God you were here.

        …my post being basically impossible to understand, and all.

        It’s weird, when you post, you don’t use correct punctuation, yet you still expect us to understand it.

        But without 100% precise and accurate spelling and grammar, how can a word or phrase or sentence (or whatever you posted) be understood?

        Quite the conundrum. Some might even call it hypocrisy.

        But to them I say:
        eye pock rissy

  22. Hey, it’s a lot less than governments have spent on football stadiums in this country, and unlike US football, Buz Kashi actually sounds like it would be bearable to watch.

    So it’s actually a bargain. Or it would be, if they had ever actually filmed any games.

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