America’s military-industrial complex has benefitted handsomely from the Nation’s ongoing Mideast meddling and, according to the claims of a watchdog, continues to do so — especially when the government is throwing money at projects that undermine its goals and have no beneficial impact on stability in the region.
The Pentagon currently has a $554 million contract to purchase Russian helicopters for the Afghan military. Here’s the kicker: The money used to purchase the choppers could be used by the Russian government to aid the Syrian regime in its ongoing battle against rebels, and the Afghans set to take possession of the aircraft don’t have the skills to fly or maintain them.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has urged the Pentagon to postpone the contract, which provides for $554 million worth of helicopters and $218 million for fixed-wing aircraft purchases for the Afghan government.
Even before reports that the Afghans lacked the know-how to use and care for the aircraft, lawmakers rejected the idea of purchasing helicopters from the Russian arms company Rosoboronexport.
Funding for the purchase was denied by lawmakers in the 2013 National Defense Authorization bill, but the Pentagon diverted leftover funds from its 2012 budget to move forward with the deal.
“American taxpayers should not be indirectly subsidizing the murder of Syrians,” Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) lamented when the purchase was made public.
According to the inspector general report, the Afghan Special Mission Wing, which will control the aircraft, lacks both the personnel and expertise it needs to use them effectively at this time.
The report warns that “U.S.-funded SMW aircraft could be left sitting on runways in Afghanistan, rather than supporting critical missions, resulting in waste of U.S. funds.”
The Pentagon, however, has opted to go through with the plan, stating simply that stopping the contracts “would not be in our national interest.”