Private security contractors in Afghanistan are being accused of paying protection money to warlords and the Taliban along convoy routes, prompting an investigation by a House oversight committee.
Walter Pincus at the Washington Post has the story this morning. The staff of Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) has begun an investigation of eight trucking companies that hold a combined $2.2 billion in DOD contracts in Afghanistan.
Tierney, chairman of the House oversight subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs, said in a statement:
After a preliminary inquiry, it has been determined these reports warrant a full-scale Subcommittee investigation. If shown to be true, it would mean that the United States is unintentionally engaged in a vast protection racket and, as such, may be indirectly funding the very insurgents we are trying to fight.
It’s not clear who made the allegations that prompted Tierney’s investigation.
Virginia-based NCL Holdings, one of the companies under scrutiny, is run by the American-educated son of Afghanistan’s defense minister.
Here’s the full statement from Tierney on the status of his investigation, including requests for documents from DOD:
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs John F. Tierney (D-MA) announced the Subcommittee’s investigation into the Department of Defense’s Afghan Host Nation Trucking contract and related logistics contracts. The Afghan Host Nation Trucking contract is a $2.16 billion contract to provide transportation for a majority of U.S. goods and materiel in Afghanistan.
“Serious allegations have been brought to the Subcommittee’s attention that private security providers for U.S. transportation contractors in Afghanistan are regularly paying local warlords and the Taliban for security. After a preliminary inquiry, it has been determined these reports warrant a full-scale Subcommittee investigation. If shown to be true, it would mean that the United States is unintentionally engaged in a vast protection racket and, as such, may be indirectly funding the very insurgents we are trying to fight.”
“Today, the Subcommittee has issued document requests to the Department of Defense and the principal Host Nation Trucking contractors in order to gather more information regarding the operational security environment for U.S. contractors in Afghanistan. As is our obligation to Congress and the men and women in our armed forces, in the coming days, weeks, and months, the Subcommittee will conduct a comprehensive investigation to get to the bottom of these allegations.”
The Afghan Host Nation Trucking contract (HNT) is split among eight (8) companies to provide ground transportation in Afghanistan for over 90% of Department of Defense (DoD) goods and materiel, including food, water, fuel, equipment, and ammunition. Since performance began in May 2009, HNT has completed over 40,000 missions. Most goods and materiel are shipped through Pakistan to Bagram Airfield and then distributed to several hundred U.S. camps, airfields, forward operating bases, and firebases.
For more information regarding this investigation including copies of the document requests, please visit the Subcommittee’s website at: http://nationalsecurity.oversight.house.gov/.