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Fuel Fiasco: $154 Million in US Gas Could be in Taliban Hands - US Military

© AP Photo / Rahmat GulAmerican soldiers wait on the tarmac in the Mohammad Agha district of Logar province, eastern of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.
American soldiers wait on the tarmac in the Mohammad Agha district of Logar province, eastern of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. - Sputnik International
The US’ total losses from fuel theft in Afghanistan are likely higher than $154.4 million, according to a US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report released Friday. Authorities aren’t quite sure where all the fuel has gone.

At least $154.4 million in fuel meant for US soldiers and fighters of the US-led coalition has been stolen, but poor record keeping, corruption and the large quantities of fuel transported make it difficult to determine an exact total, according to the SIGAR report.

Fuel theft is a lucrative business in Afghanistan. Fuel is easy to steal and in the undeveloped country, it can be moved to remote locations to avoid monitoring.

The US allocates a certain amount of fuel to the Afghan government. The Pentagon supplied more than 2.8 billion gallons of fuel in support of US operations in the country at a cost of more than $13 billion between 2008 and 2016. Between 2010 and 2018, the Department of Defense planned to spend $3.2 billion supplying fuel to Afghan Security Forces. 

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Right now, the US Department of Defense is preparing a five-year contract with Afghan forces that would see the US continue to supply them with $2 billion in fuel.

US federal auditors are fearful that the fuel may have been sold to the Taliban or other anti-government groups or sold to fund them. Pentagon officials told the auditors that they are avoiding giving funds directly to the Afghan government for fuel contracts, according to Military.com. 

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Afghanistan was listed as the fourth most corrupt nation by Transparency International in 2017, but Afghan officials aren't alone in the corruption: the SIGAR report highlights examples of US service members implicated in fuel thefts, such as three soldiers who conspired with a trucking company to steal $765,000 worth of jet fuel in 2012, four troops who took bribes to let thieves take $1.5 million of gas in 2010 and an Army sergeant who forged documents for a $10 million tank fuel scheme in 2013.

The report notes that sensors and good record keeping helped decrease fuel consumption in other places and urged better monitoring of fuel deliveries and transfers in Afghanistan.

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