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 Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
U.S. troops rejoice — the midnight curfew for service members in South Korea has been temporarily suspended, as command evaluates if you can be trusted to not act like wild animals in the streets of Pyeongtaek.
Late last month Activision's Infinity Ward dropped a teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — a soft-reboot of one of it's most beloved games — and just two weeks after the May 30 reveal, the game developer unveiled some new details on what's in store for the first-person shooter's multiplayer: Juggernaut and ghillie suits!