Pentagon wasted $150 million on private villas in Afghanistan
The Pentagon has wasted millions of dollars of taxpayer money on luxurious private villas for US government staff in Afghanistan, a congressional watchdog reveals.
John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), wrote a five-page letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on November 25, saying that the Pentagon Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) blew as much as $150 million on lavish villas in Afghanistan, the watchdog revealed Thursday.
“Based on allegations we have received from former TFBSO employees and others, today I am writing to request information concerning TFBSO’s decision to spend nearly $150 million, amounting to nearly 20 percent of its budget, on private housing and private security guards for its US government employees in Afghanistan, rather than live on US military bases,” read the letter.
The Pentagon also kept an “investor villa” that, according to the letter, had “upgraded furniture” and “Western-style hotel accommodations.”
“It is unclear what benefit the US received as the result of TFBSO’s decision to rent private housing and hire private security contractors, rather than living on DOD [Department of Defense] military bases,” Sopko wrote.
SIGAR “is asking good questions about whether these funds were used to achieve their development goals in Afghanistan, and whether expenditures on villas and guards were actually justified.”
The inspector general called on the Pentagon to reveal more information on who stayed at the villas and approved the expenditures. The Pentagon has until December 11 to respond.
The Department of Defense confirmed it has received “the recent letter from SIGAR and will respond.”
Last month, TFBSO was denounced by members of Congress, after SIGAR found that it had spent $43 million for a gas station there that should have cost only $500,000.