Gloomy reports detail huge fraud, waste and corruption in contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan

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The latest reports from those studying ongoing US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are gloomy in every respect.

Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq,  characterizes Iraq as “less safe than one year ago”. As Mr. Bowen points out,  June was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in more than two years.  Attacks on civilians and government military and police installations have also increased, including a number of deadly suicide attacks. Read Mr. Bowen’s comments:

Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirms that that much of the money from the $2 billion US contract for transportation is being diverted to the Taliban.  Afghanistan trucking contractors are paying tens of millions of dollars annually to local warlords across Afghanistan in exchange for guarding their supply convoys.  Read more:

Also this week, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, issued an audit showing that an insurance program for injured contract workers in Afghanistan potentially lost tens of millions of US taxpayer dollars due to faulty billing methods.  The audit blames the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to exercise strong oversight of its Defense Base Act workers compensation insurance program in Afghanistan, which led to higher insurance costs than necessary.  See:

FINALLY,  A bipartisan Congressional panel is expected to report that the U.S. has wasted or misspent $34 billion contracting for services in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a draft report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq, which was established in 2008 to investigate the overall cost of a decade of battlefield contracting in America’s two big wars.  The report will be issued in the next few weeks. See:

NY Times looks at rising cost of veterans care

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The Watson Institute at Brown University, funded by the Eisenhower Institute, has published a wide-ranging new study of Iraq and Afghanistan war costs that was compiled by some 20 academic contributors and led by Professors Catherine Lutz (Brown) and Neta Crawford (Boston University).  Contributors include Andrew Bacevich (BU) , Winslow Wheeler (Center on Defense Information), Anita Dancs (National Priorities Project), Ryan Edwards (Queens College, NYU) and many others.  Linda Bilmes wrote the section of the report that estimates the costs attributable to veterans medical care and disability benefits.

The study focused particularly on war costs that have occurred (or been incurred but not yet paid) during the past decade since September 11, 2011.  It features important new work on the casualties and costs to defense contractors, and the social impact on military families.   The section by Winslow Wheeler analyzes the increases in the defense base budget over the past decade.  Portions of the report focus on costs to Iraq and to the region.   The website includes a range of charts and tables.    The study covers overlapping, but somewhat different ground, from the Stiglitz-Bilmes study.