At a Senate confirmation hearing Nov. 15, Sen. Claire McCaskill told the nominee to serve as Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan that U.S. taxpayer-funded infrastructure funding for Afghanistan should be brought home.
“We need to ensure that come 2014, we don’t have a situation where we are withdrawing our troops but we’re leaving billions of dollars of contract work on the ground for infrastructure —money that should be spent on infrastructure here at home,” McCaskill, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Gen. Joseph F. Dunford.
“I really think it’s time for you all to do a gut-check about our strategy as it relates to nation-building. We can call it other things, but let’s be honest: we’re trying to nation-build in the middle of fighting.”
Last year, McCaskill introduced legislation that would strip funds for large-scale construction projects in Afghanistan and redirect those resources for use in the construction of roads and bridges in America, after 19 reports by Inspectors General, GAO, the Army Audit Agency, and others have highlighted major shortcomings with Defense Department spending on infrastructure projects. Many of the projects reviewed were found to be unsustainable and highly vulnerable to attacks by insurgents, as well as contributing little to our military’s overall mission security.
McCaskill asked Gen. Dunford to provide information detailing exactly how much more money is slated for the construction of facilities for Afghan National Security Forces and how much those facilities will cost to maintain in the future, telling Dunford, “Let’s be honest, we’ve built them an army they can’t afford.”
The change of command for the position of U.S. and NATO commander, which is now held by Gen. John R. Allen, USMC, is scheduled for early February.
McCaskill, the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, also recently introduced the most significant reform of wartime contracting standards in 60 years, the Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act of 2012, and will aim to attach it to the National Defense Authorization Act later this year.