The 19-year-old war in Afghanistan continues to be a huge sinkhole for US taxpayer dollars. The US government’s oversight authority that monitors waste in Washington’s Afghanistan reconstruction effort released a report this month updating its findings.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that as of December 31st, 2019, Congress appropriated almost $134 billion to Afghanistan reconstruction since the 2002 fiscal year. Of that amount, SIGAR reviewed about $63 billion and found approximately $19 billion or 30 percent was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.
Between January 1st, 2018, and December 31st, 2019, SIGAR found an additional $3.4 billion was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse. Of that total, SIGAR identified $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds that were lost to waste, $300 million lost to fraud, and $34 million lost to abuse. The remaining $1.6 billion was allocated to counter-narcotics, which SIGAR believes was also wasted.
In a 2018 report, SIGAR described US counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan as a “failure.” A UN report from 2019 found Afghanistan is the source of 80 percent of the world’s illicit opium production despite the billions of US taxpayer dollars being spent to stop it.
Since SIGAR was formed in 2008, the oversight authority has investigated approximately 44 percent of the $134 billion spent by the US on Afghanistan reconstruction. According to Brown University’s Costs of War project, as of September 2019, the US has spent $2 trillion on the war in Afghanistan. The number includes interest on borrowed money used to fund the war and money spent on care for veterans.