To the Editor:
On the front page of the Aug. 5 Killeen Daily Herald there is a headline that reads, “U.S. plans to monitor Afghanistan relief projects remotely.” It is written by Shashank Bengali of the Tribune Washington Bureau. This article claims that we have already spent $15 billion in Afghanistan since 2001 and that we plan to spend billions more on energy, agriculture, health, training, and other programs carried out by Afghan and American contractors. Remember, we are to withdraw most of our military from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which has a poor track record for oversight, now plans to monitor these 80 major relief projects using technology (smart phones, GPS enabled cameras, and satellite imagery) from remote sites located in major cities in Afghanistan. USAID officials will no longer inspect these projects on foot or first hand. They will rely on technology and Afghan contractor input and assessment. Mr. Bengali confirms than many experts and watchdog groups think this new plan using technology to monitor relief projects is a “risky strategy.”
We have all seen and read about problems regarding contractor failure and billions of taxpayer dollars unaccounted for under USAID’s watch in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think “risky strategy” should be upgraded to “utterly stupid” or possibly “highly insane.”
So far, all our money spent in Afghanistan has not purchased respect, cooperation, friendship, or even safety for our soldiers and civilians working there. I think our billions of dollars would be better spent on our wounded warriors with world class medical care, rehabilitation, and family support. Our wounded warriors care should not be subject to private donations solicited by country singers and former football players on television. We owe them more.
If you agree please write, email or call your congressman and senators and tell them to stop this gross waste of our tax dollars in Afghanistan, and insist our wounded warrior care be fully funded by our government who put our soldiers in harm’s way.
George Van Riper