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SIGAR: Accounting on spare parts for Afghan army flawed

Non-inventoried Afghan army vehicle spare parts sit in piles at the RLSC-South regional logistics support center. Courtesy of Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction

By CID STANDIFER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 16, 2013

The NATO military coalition was unable to account for about $230 million worth of spare parts for Afghan National Army vehicles in 2012 and ordered $138 million worth of parts it may not have needed, according to a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.

The watchdog agency, which often has harsh words for the agencies that come under its microscope, took the unusual step of commending the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), which orders spare parts for the Afghan National Army, for starting to make changes before the review even finished.

According to the report, CSTC-A has providedspare parts to the ANA without the data necessary to justify its expenditures. It says CSTC-A and the Afghan Ministry of Defense have tweaked their authorized numbers for spare parts constantly since 2011, each time without knowing what they had in stock or what was being used. The CSTC-A couldn’t come up with documents showing which parts it turned over to the ANA between 2010 and 2012, the report stated.

Starting in June, the report said, CSTC-A began taking all spare parts destined for the ANA to a transfer point where they could be documented. The ANA and CSTC-A are also collaborating to conduct an inventory, and CSTC-A is trying to rake back any spare parts it has prematurely handed out until it can include them in the inventory.

“According to a CSTC-A official, SIGAR helped call attention to the issues and provided support to resolve them,” the SIGAR report stated. “We commend CSTC-A for implementing new procedures during the course of the review.”

The day before SIGAR released its report, U.S. Forces Afghanistan sent out a press release noting its new measures to improve spare parts accountability, including better data collection.

But according to the SIGAR report, once CSTC-A turns parts over to the Afghan Army, it’s left up to the Afghans to create and update a proper inventory of what’s in stock and what has been ordered. Unfortunately, the report said, the Afghan National Army didn’t always keep those inventories complete and up to date.

While the ANA is required to do a 100 percent wall-to-wall inventory inspection at least once each year, one regional logistics facility was able to find only 78 percent of the critical parts SIGAR used to spot-check their system, while the central supply depot was able to find less than half.

In theory, a form is supposed to be filled out for every parts request and shipment. But in practice, SIGAR found, each regional logistics hub had its own ideas of when forms were necessary or not. CTSC-A told SIGAR that the central supply depot was too understaffed to keep up with the forms.

“Until the ANA conducts, maintains and reports inventories with accuracy, CSTC-A’s inability to successfully manage vehicle spare parts impairs the U.S. government’s ability to equip the ANA with the correct amount and types of additional spare parts,” the report concluded. “This lack of accountability for the ANA’s spare parts and their use also increases the risk of their theft, loss, and mismanagement.”

US Forces Afghanistan pledged to work on the Afghan part of the problem as well.

“As part of this transition process, we are facilitating a culture change within the ANA,” Maj. Gen. Dean Milner, deputy commanding general of training operations for the NATO coalition, said in the press release.

standifer.cid@stripes.com

Afghan army vehicle spare parts nearly fill this container at the RLSC-South regional logistics support center. Courtesy of Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction

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