YORK — Eight boats purchased with more than $3 million meant for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan have been sitting unused at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown for more than three years.
An inquiry from the federal Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found that the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan, a multinational unit responsible for the training and development of Afghan security forces, purchased the boats in 2010 then canceled their transfer just nine months later.
According to the inspector general's office, the security transition command cannot find the paperwork to justify either decision.
The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, headquartered in Arlington, was created in 2008 by Congress to oversee the approximately $103.2 billion spent on relief and reconstruction in Afghanistan since fiscal year 2002.
"I continue to have concerns," John Sopko, the inspector general, said in his report, dated June 6. "This is not the first time SIGAR has been confronted with lapses in record keeping, which hinder our ability to conduct our congressionally-mandated mission to oversee U.S. reconstruction funds."
Sopko said further explanation is needed to "understand how these decisions were made, and to help us prepare lessons-learned reports intended to avert the waste of U.S. taxpayer funds in the future."
Eight rigid-hulled inflatable boats were originally requested in October 2010 for the Afghan National Police to patrol the rivers to the north and west of the land-locked country, according to the inspector general's report. Spare parts and training officers were also included in the price tag totaling $3,019,668 — though a Department of Defense spokeswoman told the Daily Press only $1,925,406 was actually spent.
The boats were to be used to move supplies along the Afghan border and deter smuggling and illegal entry into the country, the command headed by Maj. Gen. Kevin Wendel said in response to Sopko's inquiry.
But when Sopko specifically asked for the documents requesting the boats, called a concept of operation, the command said it was "unable to locate a proposed concept of operations for employment of the boats."
Nor could it confirm that a feasibility review was completed, documents show.
"However, then as now, (the command) is required to thoroughly research the necessity of all requirements," its response read.
In 2011, it was determined that the boats were no longer needed in Afghanistan and another $9,600 was spent to store them in Yorktown.
"Records of decision are not available to support all the actions taken that led to the (boats) not being transferred to the Afghan National Police as originally planned," said Maj. Gen. Harold Green, deputy commanding general of the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan.
Green said the boats will remain at the weapons station in Yorktown until the Navy decides what to do with them.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, in a letter attached to the command's and Green's responses, defends them.
"It is not clear given the documentation at hand, that proper procedures to halt production and delivery of the boats were followed," Colt's letter reads, "but I have no evidence that (the command) did not follow procedures."
Rockett can be reached by phone at 757-247-4942.