Afghanistan rebuild costs U.S. more than Marshall Plan

The United States is on track to spend more money reconstructing Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion and war, than it collectively spent on 16 European countries to rebuild after World War II.

That's one of the findings in the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction’s (SIGAR) quarterly report sent to Congress and the secretaries of State and Defense on Wednesday.

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Congress has appropriated $104 billion for Afghanistan reconstruction since 2002, SIGAR reported, while aid distributed to 16 nations in Western Europe to rebuild following World War II totaled $103.4 billion. 

The Marshall Plan, named after its author, former Secretary of State George C. Marshall, was instituted after World War II and did not focus on building and training security forces in those countries as is the case in Afghanistan, SIGAR noted.

The U.S. gave about $13.4 billion in aid under the Marshall Plan between 1948 and 1952, according to the Congressional Research Service, but adjusted for inflation based on GDP, that totals about $103.4 billion.

SIGAR, the only agency overseeing U.S.-funded operations in Afghanistan, has been largely critical of U.S. aid in that country.

“The 30 audits, inspections, special projects, and other reports SIGAR issued this quarter examined programs and projects worth approximately $18.2 billion,” Inspector General John Sopko wrote in the report.

“Unfortunately, most uncovered poor planning, shoddy construction, mechanical failures, and inadequate oversight,” he added.

Those audits showed, among other findings, that a newly rebuilt $2.89 million storage facility had gone unused for more than a year and raised questions on whether the Pentagon's plan to give four C-130 cargo planes to the Afghan Air Force was justified, noting reducing it by even one would save $40 million over the next three years.

The billion dollars spent on reconstruction in Afghanistan is only a portion of the total money spent on the war there. 

The president announced in May that U.S. forces in Afghanistan would draw down over the next two years, but funding will likely continue after combat operations end. 

View the report here.