(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Construction projects in Afghanistan meant to deflate the influence of the Taliban may turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth, according to a report released Monday by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.
In 2010, the Afghan Infrastructure Fund authorized by Congress set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for the State and Defense Departments to build new roads and power plants intended to support the U.S. counterinsurgency program.
The goal, supported by then top U.S. commander David Petraeus, was to create an infrastructure that would improve the quality of life for most Afghans, thus making them less likely to turn to the Taliban.
However, the special inspector general’s report says that things are so behind schedule that the benefits of the construction projects won’t be realized until long after U.S. troops have departed and that in fact, the Afghans might not have the means to sustain the new infrastructure.
This situation could turn into an “expectations gap” among the population that might actually undermine overall stabilization efforts.
The special inspector general warned, “If goals are set and not achieved, both the U.S. and Afghan governments can lose the populace’s support.”
In response, the top Pentagon official responsible for Afghanistan countered that the projects have generated goodwill and excitement among the Afghan people.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chandrika Narayan and Steve Almasy, CNN
Euan McKirdy, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN