Americans’ Afghanistan haul: Bringing forward the Pentagon corruption file

Americans’ Afghanistan haul: Bringing forward the Pentagon corruption file

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly pointed out the need for American troops to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. Despite this, the Pentagon, CIA and industrial organizations stand in favor of military forces staying in this country. The flow of financial aid to Afghanistan is used by Americans in the name of personal interests and plays an important role in this process.


Washington has allocated very serious resources to the Afghanistan Operation, which has been going on for almost 20 years, as well as NATO and American military presence in the country. These resources were transferred to the country not only for security reasons, but also for the restructuring of civil life in the country and for the development of Afghanistan. Since 2001, approximately $130 billion have been transferred to Afghanistan.

However, according to UWIDATA’s research and information obtained from the regional sources, not all of this money was spent on the needs of the country. It turns out a significant portion of this “aid” was put straight into the pockets of corrupt Americans.


Important evidence of this is the large number of reports from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko. The corruption network created by the “siphoning off” the budget allocated by the American officials further deepens the military-political-economic crisis, including Afghanistan.


American officials included in the contracts who are holding most of the money transfered acquire it via complex mechanisms. Multilevel contracting systems with the local participation of American contractors and subcontractors play an important role in the distribution of financial aid to Afghanistan. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is used primarily for the “nicking” of aid to Afghanistan.

About 50% of the money flowing through these institutions goes to those who are corrupt. For example, 90-95% of the budget allocated for the program of improving the situation of women in Bedahşan and Host provinces is being pocketed by corrupt actors.

The resources are transferred to the relevant Afghan organization within the framework of USAID’s standard scheme. This organization has previously approved the inflated costs to the Afghan Ministry of Finance. In accordance with the contract, half of the total amount is transferred to the people associated with USAID by cash outflow.World Bank and IMF aid are likely “siphoned off” in this way. However, the presence of many other “witnesses” in international organizations reduces the rate of corruption.


The volume of American financial aid, whose fitness for purpose is also discussed within the US, also carries important question marks. As mentioned above, John Sopko pointed out that the size of the aid made in the report he presented to the US Congress in February 2020 exceeded the potential of the Afghan economy.

The volume of the resource allocated, according to the data of the US investigator, corresponds to 15 to 45% of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product (GDP). At the same time, the US’s subsidies to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2010 are above the country’s entire GDP.


It is clear that these expenditures are not fulfilling their intended purpose, and instead offer opportunities for corruption. However, it seems that American politicians’ attempts to reduce Afghanistan expenses are prevented by soldiers making personal gain from these aids and also by contractors operating in this field.

On March 23, 2020, after the rather suspicious election between two presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that they would cut $ 1 billion in aid to Kabul. However, there has been no confirmation from Washington regarding that this announcement of Pompeo will materialize.

Recently, American Democratic senators demanded documents from the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper demonstrating that expenses were reduced. However, no documents have been submitted to them so far. It is clear that the Pentagon has not closed this page. The soldiers do not want this aid, which they feed on themselves, being reduced.


On the other hand, the American defense industry has a great interest in the resources allocated to Afghanistan. Sales and supplies to the US and NATO troops in the country, as well as to the Afghan security forces, are often made at economically unrealistic inflated prices in line with the interests of American manufacturers.

For example, instead of establishing a factory in Afghanistan that can produce ammunition for “M-4” and “M-16” for 12 cents, they continue to buy them for 57 cents for Afghan security forces. Apart from that, the US Army refused to buy Russian kerosene from 94 cents per liter and used its preference for Greece at $ 1.4.

The United States is providing financial assistance to Afghan security forces, not through international organizations, but through its own institutions to evade audits.


American contractors are profiting on civil projects in the same way: they offer goods and services at inflated prices through USAID. For example, the Ministry of Health of Afghanistan recently bought 10,000 coronavirus tests at $48, with a contract involving Americans. However, the actual price of these tests is not more expensive than $5.

There are even more such ‘honey’ contracts currently in place: lobbying for the supply of petroleum products, equipping the Afghan Army and NATO forces in the country, providing technical equipment and dressing are handled by American congress members. In return, it is known that the spouses of the congress members were taken to the boards of the relevant companies.

However, the major officials, where the taps of corruption flow, do not want to deal with the legwork. They send a large number of their employees to Afghanistan as “business solvers”, and on top of that, they give them salaries ($30-40,000 per month), which are astronomical for Afghanistan. Of course, this is among the terms of many other similar contracts.


American aid to Afghanistan has already overtaken the budget for the Marshall Plan. However, despite the astronomical dimensions of this ‘aid’, we can say that American military officials and contractors are doing nothing but enrich themselves. It is not possible to see the effects and concrete results of such an astounding amount of money in Afghanistan.


The media recently has reported that Afghanistan’s senior administration officials attempt to stop the flow of foreign financial aid. In April 2020, President Ashraf Gani announced the reform of the Ministry of Finance, bypassing parliament. Within the framework of this reform, it was envisaged that a number of state institutions dealing with budget, tax and customs issues would be connected to the presidency administration. However, Washington criticized Gani’s decision and called it “corruption.” The Afghan President had to withdraw his decision after these comments.

Kabila’s political dependence on Washington is clear, since it is the most important trump card of the corruption network of the US. Americans do not want to lose their control over the financial flow coming Afghanistan from the outside and even add their own people to the share of this flow.

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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September 2022