By Casey Harper, DCNF
Even after nearly $8 billion spent fighting the drug war in Afghanistan, counter narcotics forces still don’t know if it’s working, according to a government report.
The Inspector General report published Friday states that because of poor self-monitoring, the auditors cannot tell if the U.S. counter narcotics forces are making a difference.
Further, the report states that the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) does not know if or when Afghanistan will be able to conduct counter narcotics operations without U.S. assistance and that sustainability is not possible in the near term.
The counter narcotics division is one part of the larger, heavily funded effort to eradicate illicit opium in Afghanistan, largely because the profits fund terrorism groups and destabilize Afghanistan.
Since 2006, the INL has spent about $220 million, but insufficient measuring means a lack of accountability on how effectively that money is being used, not the first time this has happened in the Afghanistan drug war.
This report comes on the heels of an earlier Inspector General report stating that much of the money spent fighting drugs in Afghanistan has been misspent and even used to fund opium farmers. Meanwhile, opium cultivation has reached an all-time high in Afghanistan, a country that produces 90 percent of the world’s opium, its largest cash crop, with opiates like morphine and heroin as its largest export.
That report cited the previous failures monitor progress in the fight against drugs in Afghanistan. Officials failed to track poppy farm destruction from 2002 to 2005, and when they did begin tracking their methods were poor until 2008.
The lack of accountability is made worse by the Governor Led Eradication program, which has entire years with little to no documentation.
The INL disagrees with the IG’s claim that it cannot track it’s progress, but multiple IG reports have cited problems with monitoring the progress of drug war efforts in Afghanistan.