A $43 Million Gas Station—Is This Why We're Still in Afghanistan?

Report details yet another example of money pit our involvement there has become.


And it doesn't even have a car wash!
Central Asian Engineering

Reports from the federal Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) are essentially snapshots of the absurdly expensive cronyist feeding trough that "nation-building" in that country actually is.

You may remember SIGAR for previous hits like "The Case of the $3.6 Million Goat Carcass," and "Hey, Has Anybody Seen All Our Foreign Aid?" Its latest report is just as enraging, but even more frustrating, it's just one among many.

The United States (as in, you and me), paid $43 million to build a compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Sheberghan, Afghanistan. SIGAR researched and determined similar stations in Pakistan cost a mere $500,000 or less to build. That's not even the punch line. The punch line is that the Department of Defense apparently has no idea how this happened or where the money went. Wait, no, that's not the punch line, either. The punch line is that the purpose of this project by the Task Force for Stability and Business Operations (TFSBO) was to "demonstrate the commercial viability of CNG for automobiles as part of a broader effort to take advantage of Afghanistan's domestic natural gas reserves and reduce the country's reliance on energy imports."

Oh, I would say certainly something was taken advantage of.

Why can't anybody account for all this spending? According to the Department of Defense, the TBFSO shut down six months ago and they're claiming that there's nobody around anymore who can speak to where all the money went.

According to SIGAR's report, the contract to build the gas station (to Central Asian Engineering, on land owned by the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum) was just $3 million. Yet, between 2011 and 2014, TBFSO spent more than $12 million on construction and more than $30 million on "overhead." After DOD responded to SIGAR's request with a big ol' shrug, Special Inspector General John F. Sopko noted:

"It is both surprising and troubling that only a few months following the closure of TFBSO, DOD has not been able to find anyone who knows anything about TFBSO activities, despite the fact that TFBSO reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, operated in Afghanistan for over five years, and was shut down in March 2015."

SIGAR learned that apparently no feasibility studies were done to determine if the region had the necessary infrastructure for CNG transmission and vehicle operation (it did not). "In sum," the report concludes, "it is not clear why TFBSO believed the CNG filling project should be undertaken. … In fact, an economic impact assessment performed at the request of TFBSO found that the CNG filling station project produced no discernable economic gains and a discounted a net loss of $31 million."

Of course, Sopko is kind of deliberately playing dumb here. If he knew where all the money went and whose pockets it lined, then he'd probably know why it got built. But since the DOD won't tell him, he has to play this game.

Read the full report here and ask yourself if this sort of repeat and shameless grifting of the taxpayers is why our troops are still stuck in the country, risking their lives.

NEXT: Iran's Drug War is Disgusting, Depraved...And Commended by the United Nations

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  1. Fuck me. It sounds like Tarantino is going to apologize to the pigs.

    Let the porcine genuflecting begin.

    1. Hopefully it will be one of those fake apologies like, “I’m sorry I said cops were murderers. What I meant to say is that some cops are murderers and rest are accomplices to murder. Also, it is not true to say that I stand with the murdered. That would be hard, because they’re all dead. Instead, I meant to say that I stand with the mothers, fathers, spouses and children left behind by those who have been murdered by cops. I hope that clears everything up.”

        1. A week later…

          Actor and Director Quentin Tarantino was arrested today and charged with a number of drug related felonies. Most of Tarantino’s property was seized as part of the ongoing investigation…

          1. “The next-door neighbor of director Quentin Taratino was shot dead by police during an attempt to arrest Tarantino, the owner of the adjacent property, on drug charges, in what was apparently a case of a mistaken address. Also killed at the scene was the man’s dog show-winning Brittany Spaniel, Taffy, who police reported had lunged at them in a very threatening manner.

            “The intended suspect and Oscar-winning director was subsequently taken into custody, and all police officers at the scene made it safely home.”

            There. Fixed it for you, Some Guy.

            1. In later news, “Tarantino to be charged with murder for death of a neighbor shot during his arrest.”

              1. No no, do it right.

                Needs more passive voice, forfeiture, and unfounded accusations of sex crimes. Maybe throw in an minority orphan or bondage device, for fun.

  2. “where all the money went and whose pockets it lined, then he’d probably know why it got built.”

    Has anyone checked with the Clinton Foundation?

    1. Are you kidding?

      This happened in the Middle East.

      And anything that happens in the Middle East from now until the end of time will always be the fault of BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! regardless of who actually was actually in charge of things when it happened.

  3. Autocorrect is not your friend.

    compressed national gas (CNG)

    That’s “natural”, not “national”.

    1. I’m my own bad autocorrect. I did that to myself (and I do it a lot, annoyingly). Fixed!

      1. It’s national for us to mayk mistakes, Scott. No furries….er, worries.

    2. Maybe it was nationalized natural gas…

      1. The US National gas is methane… because of obesity.

        1. I’M JUST BIG BONED!


  4. When the Taliban retakes the area and occupies the gas station and it gets blown to shit by a drone-launched Hellfire, i am going to laugh and laugh and laugh.

    1. I bet the fire ball will be awesome.

      1. For $43 million, it better be.

    2. This could be useful. Using it for planning is about on par with everything else government does.

    3. I couldn’t sleep Sat night so I stayed up watching random shit on Netflix. Wound up watching Gas-s-s by Harvey Corman. What a shitty hippy movie, but I couldn’t stop watching that train wreck.

  5. No big deal, this $43 million didn’t come from tax dollars. Tax dollars only get used to build homeless shelters and provide health care to the poor. Oh, and police, firefighters, and teachers. And roads.

    1. This was money borrowed from the future. Some other chumps will have to pay it back!

  6. Of course, Sopko is kind of deliberately playing dumb here. If he knew where all the money went and whose pockets it lined, then he’d probably know why it got built. But since the DOD won’t tell him, he has to play this game.

    I can answer in one word, knowing where this was built… Dostum

    See Abdul Rashid Dostum’s FB page: for fun and laughs.

    1. So you’re saying you had something to do with this…


      1. *begins burning old records and photos from time in Afghanistan*


    2. “Heavy D”, Dostum?

      From the little I read (jawbreaker, horse soldiers) it seems like he got unfairly blamed for the container-mass-murder thing… or, at least he was a convenient scapegoat because he was already kind of a psychopathic dick that the US wanted to distance itself from. But the details I saw seemed to suggest he had no control over that stuff and it just ‘happened’ while he was looking the other way.

      Then…. after he was made “secretary of the army” or something…. he got into a bit of a disagreement with one of this fellow government officials, murdered someone, and then someone tried to assassinate him, and he was subsequently kicked out of government and in exile for a while.

      Now he’s vice-president? Afghanistan has such a colorful political scene.

      i’ve never been sure whether he was supposed to be a good guy, a bad guy…. or just the prototypical, cliche afghan warlord

      1. Prototypical, cliche Afghan warlord….but a little better at it, as he is still alive.

        1. He must be good at it. When I was last paying attention to that sort of thing, I noticed that basically he had allied with and then betrayed pretty much every side in the various conflicts.

          1. his bio can rightfully claim, “I’ve worked for EVERYONE!”

            Also…fun-fact: his first job was at a gas-station-refinery in Shebergen.

          2. I noticed that basically he had allied with and then betrayed pretty much every side in the various conflicts.

            Standard Arab politics. That would me him a hero.

            1. “Standard Arab politics.”


              also, uzbek. They are a people possessed of World-Class eyebrows.

  7. Shebergan sounds like it should be in Wisconsin, not Afghanistan.

    1. Ehrmigerd, i LURV Shebergan.

      1. *glares*

        1. *glers* Er. Mah. Gerd.

    2. That’s the “Erhmagerd!” chick saying “Cheboygan”

      1. The local pronunciation is more “Cheboygan”. As in:

        “Yah, sher, I picked up a case of Milwaukee’s Best in Cheboygan, but I was thinkin’ it might freeze, ya know, in the back, so I kept it in the cab with me. It was kinda warm, but we put it in a snowbank and it was cold by kickoff, so that’s OK, then.”

        1. Yeah – we have a Cheboygan in MI, too – it’s where the ferry leaves to take you to Beaver Island, America’s Emerald Isle.

          No on there talks like Ehrmagerd girl, doncha know. Weird, that.

          1. Whern ervreyberdy terks thers wer, yer cern’t terl ther derferernce.

            1. Ehrmagerd, yer rert!!!1111!

          2. They* say the most commonly stolen sign in MI is i-69 to Beaver Island. If it isn’t true, it should be.

            * Giggling high-school idiots.

            1. You know who else…stole a sign….

            2. PS I-69 is nowhere near Beaver Island, so….


            3. Exit 69 on I-75 in Troy is Big Beaver road. So we have that going for us.

              1. I’m from Beaver County PA, so there!

      2. the “Erhmagerd!” chick

        Maggie Goldenberger

      3. the “Erhmagerd!” chick

        Maggie Goldenberger

        1. Huh. I’ve never seen that picture or heard of it being a thing before.

          I also have no idea what “ermahgerd speech” is supposed to be, thought I have encountered that before.

          1. I also have no idea what “ermahgerd speech” is supposed to be,

            How a young girl with braces speaks.

            1. OK, I can see that, I guess.

  8. According to Progressive Logic, this is fine. At $43 million, all that means is minimum wages were much higher, and who cares how much was spent, every additional dollar spent has a multiplier effect which in turn has a kind of trickle-down effect, something the “liberals” denied in the 80s, but wholeheartedly embrace today.

    1. #WINNING

    2. And even better news that it’s not being used. Nobody is generating pollution.

    3. Yeah hahahahaha all the dumb lefties who are so loudly supporting this boondoggle sure are dumb and lefty.

      1. Call it a railway project and raise the pricetag by a factor of 150, and suddenly it’s a dandy investment.

        1. Put it in an American city, call it a “shovel-ready” project, and those unfairly-maligned lefties would be falling all over themselves to support it.

          1. A gas station is worth at least 43 bus stops

      2. Way to spectacularly miss the point.

      3. Oh, shit, here are those super-smart, much-unfairly-maligned lefties supporting exactly this kind of boondoggle. The system is “underused” according to the SDOT, just like the gas station, and at $10,000 a bicycle! It’s stimulus all the fucking way down.…..g-network/

        1. Murray called for a $5?million city contribution to purchase 2,000 new bicycles, to go with a potential $10?million in matching federal grants for stations and other needs.

          Let’s see. I actually had to use a calculator to verify my first impression: $5,000,000 divided by 2,000 = $2,500 per bicycle. I don’t know, but I think I might see part of the problem here.

          PLUS money to set up stations and “other needs”. I can’t even.

          1. Carbon fiber with high end Shimano cassettes doesn’t come cheap.

  9. Oh, I would say certainly something someone was taken advantage of.

    Go look in a mirror.

  10. The military is obviously underfunded.

  11. The United States (as in, you and me), paid $43 million to build a compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Sheberghan, Afghanistan.

    The explanation for that high cost of construction and maintenance may be because it is the only place in Afghanistan where you can get a bag of really good pork rinds.

    1. The halal pork rinds are notoriously hard to come by.

  12. House or Senate Committee: “Hey, DOD, you have 60 days to turn over the records and attend our hearing…or
    we cut $40 million from the SecDef’s office budget.”

    1. I doubt you could scrape together enough Congresscritters who are tired of their jobs to make that a feasible threat.

  13. To be fair, the personnel costs alone for Central Asian Engineering-contracted projects are astronomical. They’re Mongols, they don’t come in anything less than a horde.

    1. but, I mean, bulk discount….

      1. For Gnomeregan!!

  14. Nothing left to cut! Mindless austerity! “Overhead” with no Dr. Evil air quotes!

  15. According to the Department of Defense, the TBFSO shut down six months ago and they’re claiming that there’s nobody around anymore who can speak to where all the money went.

    Oh, really? How about the TFBSO founder and former Deputy Undersecretary of DefensePaul Brinkley?

  16. do they even have CNG powered cars there? that should have been the first question or will we also provide those.

    1. CNG trucks are the main form of commercial-transport across China, Pakistan, Iran… and assuming, ‘everything in between’

  17. What’s $43 million when the VA spent $1.4 billion on green energy projects and head-stone straightening. I’m sorry your wait in line is so long, but there are solar panels to put up!

    The Department of Veteran’s Affairs spent nearly $1.5 billion on green energy projects, upgrading facilities, and fixing headstones at national cemeteries even as veterans were denied service due to lengthy wait times.

    1. It seems the longer you look at any government agency, it becomes clearer that its prime-function is not its ostensible “Mandate” or “Named Purpose”..e.g.. “administering (services to) veterans”….

      ..but rather, its main function is to “move money” from one place to another, from one “spending bill” to any number of constituencies and favored bureaucratic subordinates

      I’m thinking of the scene in Silence of the Lambs…

      “”First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do… “”

      People so frequently wonder… why are these government agencies so ()*#@(!)% BAD at doing X, Y, or Z! Why, that’s their very purpose!

      It makes a lot more sense when you realize that the name of the agency is NOT its main purpose, and it is in fact a sideline to their more-essential function of being various forms of Money Transfer Agents.

      1. The first priority of a bureaucracy is to ensure its continued existence.

        1. “Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy”:

          In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

          Pournelle has restated it as:

          …in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

          1. I quote it often – and usually get blank stares in return.

    2. Dead vetss make great compost, so…



  19. I bet this was money that went for black projects. The military doesn’t really pay $600 for a hammer or $2K for a toilet seat, but people still fall for this crap every time they see some ludicrous expense like this one being bandied about.

    Not making excuses for them, but let’s stop being dumb about this stuff please.

    1. I worked as a defense contractor for a few years. After that experience, all I can say is that if the military managed to ONLY spend $600 buying a hammer and $2000 buying a toilet seat it should be considered a win for taxpayers.

  20. OT = Career Cocktease Lectures Men on “Best Online-Dating Practices”

    Apparently she went on 150 ‘tinder dates’ for the purpose of finding out “How men need to improve themselves”

    My interpretation…. redhead who enjoys mild sadomasochism. She gets a charge out of watching men dance and then leaving them stupidly wondering what “they’re doing wrong”. Then she gets paid to tell other people about it. And other women get to vicariously enjoy the power-trip. Best job evah!

    I note that there is not even the pretense that there’s any “equality” in this whole dating thing, and that everything is apparently a series of hoops that the man must ritually jump through to demonstrate their potential suitability. This includes being responsible for choosing all activities and ensuring that you are able to conform to any possible changing whims of your date. All the woman must do is silently observe and keep updating the checklist

    Completely aside from all that = Would. And then would ask her to make me a sammich.

    Side note = I have a high-school friend who made a career in proving ‘online-dating-related services’ in NYC… she started back in the 1990s. She takes flattering headshots for people’s profiles, coaches people on how to screen dates, and sets up ‘events’ for people to attend.

    Basically, an internet-era Yenta. Its a thing.

    1. Completely aside from all that = Would

      Huh…. Well, far be it from to tell anyone who to like. That said, you seem to have led quite an interesting life, G, which leads me to believe you could easily “land better” than her (and, probably have).

      To be fair, maybe they didn’t have any budget for makeup on that shoot? Just hypothesizing…

      1. My standards have fallen dramatically. She satisfies a few basic things that appeal to me = a little nuts, sorta redhead, and looks like Jodie Foster when she grins. Half of it is also a desire to kick her out in the morning just for the feeling of gender-retribution.

    2. Apparently she went on 150 ‘tinder dates

      starring Adam Sandler.

  21. This is nothing new in DOD land. The waste from contracting and procurement alone is despicable. Yet it continues all the way from the USS Constitution till the present day.

    Were it a private defense company, consumers could take their business elsewhere. Yet the DOD engages in criminal waste & fraud that would get individuals in a business subjected to the market fired.

    But we have to keep the DOD alive, cause all the armchair douchebags couldn’t advocate sending my brothers and sisters off to fight wars for them. And also because socialism is magically efficient and effective when it comes to things they are uncomfortable being without.

    Meanwhile, in realityville, the private production of defense has shown itself to already be the most efficient and effective.

  22. Google War is a Racket by General Smedley Butler to understand where this money went.

    1. TO AMAZON!?

  23. Bets that the money all didn’t go into the gas station???

    1. Come now, you jest

  24. Pardon me for being crude, but the above strikes me as Unfucking Believable.Unbelievable or not, I suspect that there it stands.

  25. I could have saved them a shitload of money if they had run the idea by me first. For a small consulting fee of $41 million I would have noted that generally if your infrastructure project requires everyone there to be driving a new, fancy expensive car with a special engine, and the only people who have those cars are your own people who should never have been there in the first place, your infrastructure idea sucks.

  26. Any idea who central Asian engineering is owned by?

  27. Its always gonna be about the precious dollar.

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