On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the special investigator general, Arnold Fields, for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR) announced that he would step down on February 4. After retiring as a Marine Corps general, Fields spent three years overseeing SIGAR and, supposedly, kept track of the billions of U.S. dollars spent on reconstruction in the war torn country. During Fields’ tenure, about 40 percent of the $56 billion in funds allocated to civilian reconstruction projects in Afghanistan - $22.4 billion – went unaccounted for.
A bipartisan team of Senators led by Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) spent two years investigating SIGAR. In spite of Fields’ deft ability to deflect and reframe the Senate’s inquiries, the committee honed in on the fact that only four of the 7,000 contracts in Afghanistan were audited. In September, the Senators called for Fields’ resignation, citing excessive evidence of incompetence, mismanagement, and tax dollar misuse.
While President Obama has yet to accept Fields’ resignation, the act is a formality at this point. With the budget for Afghani reconstruction increasing next year and an important post to fill, it is critical that Obama makes a sound decision in appointing a new overseer of the reconstruction project. An aggressive, vigilant individual must take over for Fields and end the rampant corruption in war torn Afghanistan. A nation suffering under mounting debt cannot continue to allow billions and billions of tax payer dollars to walk away, unaccounted for, especially in a war zone where the lost money could be funding those that oppose the efforts of the US military.