After routing the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. government began a now 13-year effort to stabilize and develop the country. It has cost taxpayers billions — and some say, achieved little. These stories examine the waste and problems plaguing U.S. reconstruction efforts that, despite the end of combat, will continue to cost billions — even as our military presence shrinks.
We are also investigating the failures, and would like to hear from people involved in U.S. reconstruction in Afghanistan.
After troops leave, U.S. to lose access to Afghan reconstruction projects worth billions (The Washington Post, October 2013)
Once the troops leave Afghanistan, U.S. officials lose access to reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars http://t.co/GeYZF4HBVa— W.J. Hennigan (@wjhenn) October 27, 2013
"By plotting some of the largest civilian and military projects on a map generated by the inspector general's office, The Post found that at least 15 major reconstruction initiatives, projected to cost more than $1 billion, are expected to be beyond the reach of U.S. government personnel next year."
Afghans don't like soybeans, despite a big U.S. push (Center for Public Integrity, July 2014)
The fuller story on Washington's insane $34 million Afghanistan reconstruction-by-soybean project. http://t.co/Kx3itjqB7K— Byron York (@ByronYork) July 24, 2014
"As one of the project's managers said, it was a 'risky but honorable endeavor,' meant to improve the nutrition of malnourished Afghans by raising the level of protein in their diets. As such, the project's problems model the larger shortcomings of the estimated $120 billion U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, including what many experts depict as ignorance of Afghan traditions, mismanagement and poor spending controls."
The Real Reason the US Military Was So Secretive About Afghanistan (VICE News, February 2015)
"[General John F. Campbell, commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan] doesn't want anyone to know how badly things are going in Afghanistan. So he's classified any information related to the capacity of Afghan forces, including how much money is being spent to build the Afghan army."
Two charts that prove the Afghan drug war is a total failure (VOX, July 2014)
"But according to SIGAR, eradication has also been a total failure. From 2008 to 2013, when the US anti-opium campaign hit its apex, the US only managed to eradicate 3.7 percent of the land devoted to poppy cultivation. The total amount of land devoted to poppy cultivation was a third higher in 2013 than in 2008."
After billions in U.S. investment, Afghan roads are falling apart (The Washington Post, January 2014)
"The new, U.S.-built highways seemed to be a godsend for this impoverished nation. But the projects became notorious for their exorbitant costs and poorly implemented contracts. Sometimes, money landed in the hands of the Taliban in exchange for a tacit cease-fire during road construction."
A Rebuilding Plan Full of Cracks (The Washington Post, November 2005)
"The U.S. effort was poorly conceived in a rush to show results before the Afghan presidential election in late 2004. The drive to construct earthquake-resistant, American-quality buildings in rustic villages led to culture clashes, delays and what a USAID official called 'extraordinary costs.' "