GAO calls for more oversight in Afghanistan
April 23, 2009
Congress’ research arm has laid out a series of measures to track the progress of the war in Afghanistan, saying "significant oversight" is needed of the costs and progress of the fight.
The General Accountability Office report, issued Tuesday, says that "security in Afghanistan has worsened significantly in the last 3 years, impeding both U.S. and international partners’ efforts to stabilize rebuild the country."
The war in Afghanistan has reached a crucial point, with President Barack Obama unveiling a new strategy that includes nearly doubling the U.S. force in the country. More civilian specialists are on the way as well, while U.S. and NATO officials have pressed for alliance members to contribute more to the effort.
The GAO report identifies key areas in which progress must be tracked: U.S. and international troop and resource commitments; security; U.S. forces and equipment; Afghan national security forces; counternarcotics; economic development; government capacity; accountability for U.S.-provided weapons; and oversight of contractors.
Within those areas, the report lays out several questions to track.
In the security arena, the report suggests tracking additional costs that have resulted from security issues and how deployment plans take into account regional differences in violence.
The report also highlights the importance of ensuring high-demand units such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are used; whether adequate infrastructure is in place to support additional forces; and whether force levels are set with an eye on long-term goals.
The GAO notes that more than $38 billion in U.S. reconstruction assistance went to Afghanistan as of February 2009. But it also notes that the true cost of the war cannot be specified because war funding "is not appropriated by country or specific contingency operation."
In addition to new information, the April report builds on some two-dozen GAO reports on Afghanistan issued since 2003.