U.S. auditors have come to a conclusion, $200 million wasted on a police development program that was not wanted by the Iraqi government (Marine Corps Times). The wasteful spending in Iraq just keeps accumulating.
The report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, was released today. It found that our embassy in Baghdad never received a written commitment from Iraq about the program and their willingness to participate in it.
The thought behind Iraq’s Police Development Program was for it to be the single biggest State Department program in the world. It’s five-year goal was envisioned to be a multibillion dollar program designed to train Iraqis in security for their nation.
The program was supposed to prepare Iraqis to protect their nation after U.S. troops left in December of 2011. The report says Iraqi politicians were unenthusiastic about the program and were looking forward to distancing themselves from the Americans.
The embassy now faces the truth about Baghdad’s “disinterest” in the training and are planning on gutting the program. According to the report, a Baghdad Police College Annex will be handed over to Iraqis by the end of the year, which cost American taxpayers $108 million to build.
Carol Z. Perez said in a July 26 letter responding to a draft of the report, “the embassy will need an unspecified amount of additional funding this year to continue training Iraqi police into 2013.” Perez is the acting Assistant Secretary of State.
She disputed the findings of the audit and noted that Iraqis would still use the facility for training. She also said there’s an assurance by the Principal Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi that Iraq is committed to “streamlining the training program.”
U.S. diplomats will still work with top security officials “to ensure that our police assistance efforts meet mutual goals and objectives and to sustain senior-level Iraqi commitment to the program.” The auditors said that al-Asadi’s assurances “fall short of a written commitment by the Iraqi government.”
Iraqi police officers reportedly said the training program was not beneficial and al-Asadi had told U.S. inspectors that the program was useless. Auditors wrote in the 41-page summary of their inspection, “a major lesson learned from Iraq is that host country buy-in to proposed programs is essential to the long-term success of relief and reconstruction activities.”
The auditors continued with their assessment of the training program by saying, “it’s clearly been difficult for American diplomats to secure a solid commitment from Iraq’s government to participate in the training program.”
The report concluded with, “the decision to embark on a major program absent Iraqi buy-in has been costly” and resulted in “a de-facto waste.”
Anyone see a problem that our government forged ahead with a program despite an uncommitted Iraqi government? Baghdad’s disinterest in the program should have raised a red flag immediately. Auditors also said, “the United States has spent about $8 billion to train and equip Iraqi police since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.”
One more thing, about the wasteful spending in Iraq, an article posted on The Seattle Times website says the following:
After years of following the paper trail of $51 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars provided to rebuild a broken Iraq, the U.S. government can say with certainty that too much was wasted. But it can’t say how much.
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