To ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout Afghanistan, warlords in the country are getting tens of millions of dollars of American money, some of which may be reaching the Taliban as well, a new report has said.
The report titled "Warlord, Inc, Extortion and Corruption Along the US Supply Chain in Afghanistan" points out that the Department of Defense transports goods, food, fuel, supplies and ammunitions to local truckers and Afghan private security providers who are engaged in local skirmishes and suffer civilian casualties.
The report further points out that private security subcontractors generally tend to be warlords and militia leaders who compete with the Afghan central government for power and authority, and working for the US strengthens their capabilities.
"Nearly all of the risk on the supply chain is borne by contractors, their local Afghan truck drivers, and the private security companies that defend them," the report said.
"But outsourcing the supply chain in Afghanistan to contractors has also had significant unintended consequences," it added, pointing out that this model had led to fueling "warlordism, extortion, and corruption, and it may be a significant source of funding for insurgents."
The report released by the subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the US Congress noted that trucking subcontractors in Afghanistan pay tens of millions of dollars annually to local warlords across Afghanistan in exchange for "protection" of convoys that are being used by US troops.
"The consequences are clear: trucking companies that pay the highway warlords for security are provided protection; trucking companies that do not pay believe they are more likely to find themselves under attack," the report said.
The study also indicates that the highway warlords who provide security in turn make protection payments to insurgents like the Taliban to coordinate safe passage.
"According to experts and public reporting, however, the Taliban regularly extort rents from a variety of licit and illicit industries, and it is plausible that the Taliban would try to extort protection payments from the coalition supply chain that runs through territory in which they freely operate," the report said.
These operations are fueling corruption, which is already rampant in the country, the report said.
The largest private security complained that it had to pay $ 1,000 to $ 10,000 in monthly bribes to nearly every Afghan governor, police chief, and local military unit whose territory the company passed.
The report pointed out that strengthening the warlords by the payment of millions of dollars for protection some of which may be reaching the Taliban as bribes was undercutting US efforts in Afghanistan.
Image: An Afghan man stands in front of a row of trucks in Kabul
Photograph: Ahmad Massod / Reuters