Afghan Program's Failure Likely Cost American Lives

Grates were supposed to be installed to deter roadside bombings

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 23, 2013 7:58 AM CDT | Updated Jul 23, 2013 8:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – This morning brings the news that three NATO service members were killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan today. An Afghan official tells NBC News they were Americans—a fact that, if true, dovetails sadly with a new report that indicates that a failed program in the country may have led to American casualties. The program's intention was to prevent the planting of roadside bombs in drainage culverts by topping thousands of them with metal grates. But per a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction on the planned 2009 installation, hundreds—or more—were never put in place.

The purpose of the investigation was to determine "whether this apparent failure to perform may have been a factor in the death or injury of several US soldiers," and in one instance, that appears to have been the case (no further details were given). The report uncovered what the New York Times calls "difficulties ... symptomatic of what critics have called mismanagement that has plagued the broader American effort to rebuild Afghanistan." The report cites weak program oversight, a non-coordinated handing out of contracts by various commands, and incomplete records. Investigators were unable to even determine how many grates should have been installed.

Afghan men investigate the site of roadside bomb attack in Helmand southern of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, June, 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Abdul Khaleq)
US Army flight Crew Chief Sgt. Drew Richardson helps a wounded soldier to a medevac helicopter after he was hit in a roadside bomb in in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
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