This is Part II of the three part series, “Deadly Corruption Plagues US Hospital in Afghanistan,” a continuation of the opening statements given by Colonel Schuyler Geller to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. They are conducting an investigation to “…examine the facts and circumstances surrounding alleged corruption and mismanagement at the U.S. taxpayer-funded Dawood National Military Hospital located in Afghanistan.”
Shortly thereafter Ms. Habib made a request with ISAF’s Public Affairs Office for an interview with me.
Rear Admiral Lower Half Beck, GEN Allen’s Public Affairs Officer, sent two junior public affairs officers to meet with me to assess my knowledge of the topic, the Daoud Khan Military Hospital.
They listened in silence as I spoke for over forty minutes on the topic and then finally interrupted me with the question: “Have you ever had any PA training?”
I responded to the affirmative and noted that every PAO I have ever worked with in the Air Force had told me to “talk about what I knew and always tell the truth” and that I hoped that also applied in the joint arena.
They left and I was summoned to meet with Rear Admiral Beck the next day.
After listening to what I was going to tell Ms. Habib his response was to state that I was clearly a disgruntled officer, could not be a spokesperson for ISAF, he was not going to allow her to have an official on-the-record interview with me and if I tried to meet with her I was “on my own.”
This is where the first censorship issue hits home with me. This PAOs – public affairs officer – is so concerned with public image that he will let the conditions of this hospital go untreated and unnoticed. What’s worse is that it seemed Caldwell’s obstruction of the investigation was the result of “enormous pressure to present a positive image of the war effort” for the 2010 midterm elections.
The warning was clear.
He came to my office later and in front of CDR Terry Johnson, a Navy ENT physician assigned to my division, told me he was now going to tell Ms. Habib she could submit questions and I could submit answers to him that he would filter and edit before providing them back to Ms. Habib.
Ms. Habib apparently refused as I never received any questions to answer but her article did indicate that ISAF had refused to make me available to her for an interview.
I spend time on these events as it was specifically that article that led members of Congress to request an investigation last year.
But that article was not complete due to the command in Afghanistan providing half-truths and obfuscating the multilayered labyrinth of still active causalities not the least of which was the inability of the senior leadership to effectively engage and defeat the criminal patronage networks (CPN), some with ties all the way to the top of the Government of Afghanistan.
Criminal Patronage Networks that had captured key institutions that were being supported and empowered by millions and in some cases billions of US dollars.
One such organization captured was the Sadar Mohammed Daoud Khan Hospital in Kabul. In that case, in addition to money and materials, lives were also lost and patients and mentors alike suffered.
As GEN Allen clearly stated before Congress in his March testimony, no prosecutions had occurred to that date and none have yet occurred in regard to the events of 2010.
Ee Afghanistan ast (this is Afghanistan.) The rule of law expectations of western donor nations is a goal yet to materialize.
In recent testimony before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Armed Services Committee I noted that Mr. Sedney asserted that the US had spent only $185M in 9 years on the entire Afghan military medical system.
My team discovered early on that no reliable accounting of dollars spent existed prior to 2007 but we had been mentoring medics since 2003 and the Daoud Khan Hospital since 2005.
Considerably more than $185M has been utilized in the development of the Afghan Army health system by many donor nations.
The U.S. had spent $153M just on medical supplies and meds from 2007-2010 with over $42M in pharmaceuticals delivered in 2010 alone. This did not count the building and equipping of four 50-bed hospitals, three 50 bed hospital extensions and medical barracks, numerous Troop medical clinics, years of 65-85% of all of the Afghan military medical personnel salaries and 100% of their incentive bonuses, US MILPERS costs for medics, multimillion dollar MPRI and DynCorp medical personnel contracts and the millions of dollars of additional TRICARE costs to the DoD for the loss of years of deployed military physicians, PA’s and Nurse practitioners used as trainers/mentors.
We supply 100% of the fuel and food to the Afghans Army including the Daoud Khan Hospital where it was routinely pilfered enriching the CPN’s.
The enormously expensive Level III facilities in Afghanistan are filled with Afghans; approximately 60% of all beds were filled with host nation personnel in 2010 and 2011; all supporting the Afghan military health system that would have received them.
Essentially all of the air evacuation of Afghans from the battlefield is by US assets; again, our nickel.
Many bilateral medical support agreements also exist with other nations with unsupportable and unsustainable hemodialysis machines and a lithotripsy machine purchased with such support just in 2009-10.
Turkey and Egypt and India all also provide direct medical care support to the Afghan Army in addition to training.
Canada has taken on a large training mission at the Afghan Forces Academy of Medical Sciences (AFAMS).
Japan provided $23M for drugs for the ANA in 2010 alone and built a 150 bed hospital for the Afghan Police from 2009-2011.
And let’s not forget that 75% of all dollars spent in Afghanistan for healthcare are extracted from the Afghan people themselves as out-of-pocket expense.
Afghan soldiers’ families have sold their farms and indentured themselves for healthcare in the US- and coalition-supported Daoud Khan Hospital.
Comments are enabled on the last part in this series.