The report points out that the government doesn't have the resources to finish or maintain construction. Summary.
A U.S. initiative to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on construction projects in Afghanistan, originally pitched as a vital tool in the military campaign against the Taliban, is running so far behind schedule that it will not yield benefits until most U.S. combat forces have left the country, according to a government inspection report to be released Monday.
The report, by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, also concludes that the Afghan government will not have the money or skill to maintain many of the projects, creating an "expectations gap" among the population that could harm overall stabilization efforts.
"Implementing projects that the Afghan government is unable to sustain may be counterproductive" to the U.S. counterinsurgency mission, the inspector general wrote. "If goals are set and not achieved, both the U.S. and Afghan governments can lose the populace's support."
The study calls into question a fundamental premise of the U.S. strategy to counter the Taliban insurgency -- that expensive new roads and power plants can be funded and constructed quickly enough to help turn the tide of war -- and it poses a sobering, counterintuitive question for policymakers in Washington: whether the massive influx of American spending in Afghanistan is actually making problems worse.
Many U.S. military commanders, diplomats and reconstruction experts have long believed that large infrastructure projects were essential to fixing Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the latest report adds new weight to the argument -- voiced by independent development specialists and even a few government officials -- that the United States attempted to build too much in a country with limited means to assume responsibility for those projects.
All U.S. combat forces are expected to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
In a written response to the report, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said it was "speculative" for the inspector general to conclude that some of the projects would have adverse effects.
The top Pentagon official responsible for Afghanistan called the report premature and insisted that the announcement of the projects, even though they have not been completed, has generated goodwill and excitement among the Afghan people.
Among the projects criticized by the inspector general is a plan to use costly diesel generators to provide electricity to residents of Kandahar, the country's second-largest city, until the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Army Corps of Engineers install a new hydropower turbine at a dam in the violence-plagued hills of neighboring Helmand Province.
The inspector general's report also questions whether a new $23 million road in Helmand Province will have adverse effects because the Afghan government has not paid landowners for their property.
In addition, the report reveals that four electricity projects -- costing a total of more than $300 million -- have not yet been awarded to contractors.