New efforts to stamp out corruption among Afghan government officials and extricate the U.S. military from Afghanistan are going, well, terribly, according to a new report to Congress from the Special Inspector General Report for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
Afghan officials are behind. As of a February 2018 draft report, Afghan officials had only met 10% (or 2 of 20) of their major benchmarks for that year. However, 10 weeks later, that figure had jumped to 70%; SIGAR praised government officials for their "responsiveness to the draft report" in the final version released at the end of May.
That's a suspect turnaround. Well, of the 66 major anti-corruption goals released in October 2017, a whopping 58% "lacked corresponding benchmarks to evaluate implementation progress" — which means that the DoD and Afghan officials don't even have the right means to measure success or failure. In addition, another 37% of benchmarks "are without corresponding goals, making it unclear how the completion of these benchmarks will advance the government's anti-corruption goals."
What's the problem? There are five problems, and they're all bureaucratic garbage! The SIGAR report cited a lack of capacity and resources for key anti-corruption institutions; "differing opinions" among Afghan officials on jurisdiction between government agencies; and a lack of aggressive prosecution. The biggest problem, however: "Unqualified and potentially corrupt actors continue to operate in key Afghan anti-corruption institutions." No shit!
Things don't look good in the long run: "It is unlikely that lasting change will be realized until the Afghan government commits to fighting corruption without reservations," SIGAR wrote in a statement accompanying the full report. "If the Afghan government continues not to take action against public officials who violate internal codes of ethics, while simultaneously failing to protect reformers and whistleblowers from reprisal, a climate of corruption will endure."
According to the global corruption index maintained by Transparency International, Afghanistan ranks 177 out of 180 in terms of public perceptions of corruption — just above war-torn Syria, war-torn South Sudan, and war-torn Somalia. Something tells me another trillion bucks over another 17 years probably won't help fix that problem.
The U.S. military does not need Iraqi permission to fly close air support and casualty evacuation missions for U.S. troops in combat, a top spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS clarified on Tuesday.
Army Col. James Rawlinson clarified that the Iraqis do not need to approve missions in emergency circumstances after Task & Purpose reported on Monday that the U.S. military needed permission to fly CAS missions for troops in a fight.
Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.
It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.
Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.
Thousands of U.S. service members who've been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."
The Pentagon has authorized troops who have deployed to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since last April to receive the Armed Forces Service Medal. Details about the decision were included in a Marine Corps administrative message in response to authorization from the Defense Department.
There is no end date for the award since the operation remains ongoing.
Americans' mighty military may have met its match when it comes to erecting barriers to keep out intruders.
An alligator in Florida recently had zero trouble flopping over a chain-link fence to get onto a naval air base. Motorist Christina Stewart pulled over to film it, and local television station WJAX posted it on Facebook.