US Pentagon wasted $450 million in Afghan spy training program, says watchdog

Afghan National ArmyNearly half a billion of American taxpayers’ funds were wasted by contractors hired by the United States government to train Afghan intelligence personnel, according to a scathing report by a Congressional body. The funds were spent between 2010 and 2013 by the US Department of Defense, in order to train several thousand members and a few dozen aspiring trainees of the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Two companies, Legacy Afghanistan R&D and Afghanistan Source Operations Management, oversaw the training program. It was primarily executed by a contractor, Imperatis Corporation, and a subcontractor, New Century Consulting, at a total cost of $457 million to the US taxpayer.

But according to a new report, the four-year program was a monumental, multimillion dollar waste. The report was written by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The body was established by the US Congress in 2008 to supervise the effectiveness of US government-funded reconstruction programs in Afghanistan. Dated July 2017, the SIGAR report says it is “almost impossible” to evaluate the effectiveness of the ANDSF intelligence-training program, because none of the contractors and subcontractors involved in it kept adequate training records. Based on the available information, the SIGAR report concludes that there is virtually “no indication of improvement in intelligence operations” by ANDSF as a result of the four-year training program.

Part of the reason for the poor value of the program is that “a significant portion” of the intelligence trainees enrolled in it performed below the minimum standards required. Additionally, few trainees actually completed the courses that were required prior to graduation. Shockingly, the US Pentagon paid the contractors in full despite the fact that they had failed to keep adequate records of their performance, an omission which legally entitled the Pentagon to refuse to payment. Even more incredibly, the SIGAR report also found that Imperatis Corporation billed the US taxpayer nearly $4 million between March and December of 2011 for training courses that had been canceled and were not being offered.

The training program’s subcontractor, New Century Consulting (owned by retired US Special Forces Colonel Tim Collins), was criticized two years ago in another SIGAR report for spending $130 million of US taxpayers’ funds on “unsupported” and “questioned” purchases. The program’s main contractor, Imperatis Corporation, went out of business in May 2016.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 03 August 2017 | Permalink

5 Responses to US Pentagon wasted $450 million in Afghan spy training program, says watchdog

  1. bratfalean says:

    Intell news must observe:Arab Spring have a new song!It is a traditional and very profound song!Afganistan and Pakistan represent interes for India and Russia!America interes in the region is only for cut drug rout!This is only my opinion,Thank you!

  2. There are some pretty gross inaccuracies in this story, although I can confirm that both prime and subcontractor failed to keep adequate training records. However, most of the blame lay on ARL and CTTSO (the real program oversight agencies), despite documented encouragement from in-country program managers to drive improvement in contractor practices (mainly the prime).

    Recognizing the need to improve performance, a coordinated plan was proposed to senior leaders at ISAF — the contractors were also briefed on these plans, and had taken steps to implement many aspects on their own after a 2012 conference in London. But ISAF interoffice politics, contractor incompetence (the prime, which was not Imperatis, but Jorge Scientific) and, not least, a vindictive, mendacious lawsuit (dismissed with prejudice by the DOJ) made it almost impossible for contractors and in-country program managers to focus on their jobs. Pretty much Afghanistan Security Assistance writ large…not a unique thing there.

    I strongly dispute that the training was ineffective. It certainly was not. It is an incredibly effective framework with a historical track record of success. In fact, it should be given to every partner nation where intelligence institutions are in great need of capacity building assistance — which is most of them — and where our own laws prohibit instruction in current tradecraft.

    I strongly encourage taking SIGAR reports with a grain of salt. Investigators rarely have adequate scope and resources to perform a fair assessment and they often get the critical bits wrong.

    Finally, bravo to those brave men and women in the field who risked their lives every day to mentor their Afghan counterparts. And bravo to the Afghan police and military intelligence personnel who put in the effort and who still deserve our support.

    This is a story that has a lot of noise around it. I have not read a single account from a journalist that is even half-way acceptable. Sad.

  3. M Green says:

    Your post states: “The funds were spent … in order to train a few dozen members of the ANDSF”. The SIGAR report states: “Based on our review of the course records, we determined that the Legacy R&D program held 372 total classes, which 3,421 students attended, and ASOM held 428 classes, which 3,645 students attended.” Why does your post further distorted an already distorted report?

    There are so many inaccuracies within the SIGAR’s report that it is difficult to know where to begin to address them. It is a shame that a program which was evaluated by RAND to be the “gold standard” and by a four-star general as “immediately effective”, to name just two of the wide array of accolades, has been reported in this way.

    And as to the $130m of “unsupported” and “questioned” costs, the SIGAR chose to ignore an independent audit report from an international accounting firm to address this which concluded that the documentation existed “without exception” and have simply trotted out the same line again because they can.

  4. intelNews says:

    @M Green: Thank you for your comment, and especially for the correction regarding the numbers of students that attended Legacy R&D classes. I have corrected the wording of the article, which, in its original form, confused students with trainee candidates (far fewer). In inquiring further into the issue, do you know if the companies in charge of the program have issued formal statements responding to the claims in the SIGAR report? If so, we would certainly want to post a follow-up on this story. Thank you again for your comment and important correction. [IA]

  5. Chris comeau says:

    I question the validity of this reporting. Tim Collins is British.

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