Congress Can't Ignore Afghanistan in Budget Talks

A new report shows irresponsible spending by the Defense Department in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marines and Afghan border police off-load from a helicopter in Afghanistan.
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[Read the U.S. News Debate: Should the U.S. Withdraw from Afghanistan Sooner?]

None of these Afghan forces will take lightly to our leaving, or to any reduction in force numbers or funds. The plan for the Afghan National Security Forces is to draw down from 350,000 to 228,000. This sounds like Iraq. We already know what happens when formerly armed and trained national security forces suddenly face unemployment. They join militias and end up fighting each other or us. These future attacks, and they will assuredly happen and continue, will also cost U.S. blood and treasure, as will the hundreds of billions of dollars that have not yet been allocated for the millions of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who will need critical medical and mental health services.

All of these costs must be considered as Congress establishes cuts for the beginning of the 113th Congress. Many, if not most of these war-related costs, are outside the normal budget purview yet contribute mightily to our growing debt problem. Lest another special inspector general report goes by under-reported, it would behoove the Republican leadership in the House to show some savvy in rooting out corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse by U.S. actors in the war effort.

If the Darrell Issas of the Republican Party would be as ramped up about grossly mismanaged Afghan war expenditures as they are about far minor offenses, we might see a more accountable American presence in Afghanistan. But until then, it appears the profitable plundering will continue. What a shame.

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