30 June 2010 | Nick Martindale
The US army’s campaign in Afghanistan could be fuelling extortion through payments made to warlords to protect supply convoys, according to a Congressional report.
The study said eight companies from the US, Afghanistan and the Middle East which share the contract to supply over 70 per cent of goods to more than 200 bases are often forced to pay warlords to guarantee the security of convoys.
The report said: “The principal private security subcontractors are warlords, strongmen, commanders and militia leaders who compete with the Afghan central government for power and authority.”
It concluded the $2.16 billion contract for supplies such as fuel, ammunition and military vehicles “fuels warlordism, extortion and corruption and may be a significant source of funding for insurgents”.
Previous attempts to warn the US military of the potential for effectively funding the insurgency had been treated with “indifference and inaction”, it said.
The Congressional report recommended the US Department of Defense take charge of all trucking and security contractors in the future.
Large parts of rural Afghanistan, where local government structures often do not exist, are controlled by warlords.