This is Part III 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.”
We also supply funds through the Ministry of Finance that are placed on-budget through the Deputy Ministry of Defense for Finance, MG Amaree, into budget lines in support of the Health department.
These amounts had been approximately $5M each year up to 2010 when over $11M was placed directly into the MOD’s health department budget for purchase of equipment and supplies and medicines.
It is these monies from 2005-2009 that MG Yaftali is most suspected of embezzling by the Afghan Army legal department.
Yaftali was the man who was fired after being involved in a corrupt embezzlement scandal that caused none of the millions of dollars worth of donated medical supplies to reach Afghan hospitals like they were supposed to.
This would not be able to have been accomplished without the Deputy Minister of Defense for Finance’s complicity and why the legal department also wanted to have him courtmartialed.
Rule of law again was thwarted by CPN’s.These monies are subject to Afghan contracting processes and this remains very poorly regulated with 100% of vendors still failing to meet contract requirements as noted in the May 7 2012 DoDIG Report pages 6 and 7.
Vendors are not vetted as to their abilities to perform but other “softer” non-transparent criteria.
Unlike the DoDIG who stated they had not, I have personally sat through a contracting meeting for pharmaceuticals with BG Shamin and BG Safir where vendors clearly identified as having no capability to import the required contractual drug were still awarded the contract.
Government contracting – especially overseas and in underdeveloped countries – is wrought with corruption. A system that sounds like a really good employment of government time and resources, in which contractors bid for different jobs in order to afford the government a cost-effective solution, is usually employed by profiteering-companies looking to deliver subpar (and outsourced) service and products for above par tax dollars.
I took this personally to Minister Wardak to no avail as he told me he was convinced of BG Safir’s honesty.
However, this is how the counterfeit morphine was repeatedly procured leading to hundreds of soldiers who were forced to suffer through surgical procedures and operations without analgesia.
I reported this to my chain of command, the CJ-2 (Intelligence) debriefers, US Army Criminal Investigators (CID), and TF Shafafiyat all in 2010 just as I reported the diversion of US Morphine purchased by NTM-A/CSTC-A to pharmacies controlled by ANA medical generals and the exact location of the downtown Kabul warehouse where they were stored.
Nothing was done.
In fact, the whole thing was turned over to the Afghans and I supplied Col Eugene Baime, the Investigative Officer for GEN Allen’s 15-6 investigation in Dec of 2010, the 201st Corps military judge’s musings after he had dismissed all charges in regards to the counterfeit morphine scam.
The judge’s NTM-A mentor wrote to his chain of command that the judge knows that BG Shamin and BG Safir are guilty but he cannot prosecute them due to their connections (CPN’s) and so there was nothing else he could do but dismiss the case.
No witnesses will come forward. Ee Afghanistan ast.
Revisionist history as noted in the apparent “new” reporting of patient abuse on 1 February 2011 that was the sudden impetus for the second visit by DoDIG to Daoud Khan Hospital in February or the lack of any knowledge before November of 2010 of the patient abuses at the National Military Hospital by the NTM-A chain of command will not provide any illumination.
Such history is filled with audio but no accompanying video to support.
In addition to my Memorandum for record the report “Leadership Failure at the NMH and OTSG” generated for NTM-A with the assistance of many sources including NTM-A IG, COL Mark Fassl provides clear insight as to what was known when as do many additional documents and e-mails also provided in my supporting documents.
Leadership failures were not the exclusive realm of the Afghans.
To get out of a labyrinth you must retrace your steps to see how you got there in the first place.
As I close I wish to state that there has been progress made in regards to the health department of the Afghan National Army most notably with the codification of a Strategic Plan for an Afghan National Security Forces Transition Objective for Health that consumed essentially the entire year of 2011 under the leadership of the ISAF MEDAD’s office.
This would never have been accomplished without the direct recommendation and follow-up of the DoDIG and was one of the many reasons that their outside look and report that would eventually end up at Congress was so critical to all of us in Oct of 2010.
That Strategic Plan was signed by GEN Allen in Nov of 2011 and included 134 or so milestones that had to be met for the transition objective to be completed by 31 December 2014.
The accountability phase of that was that the coalition would de-scope the transition objective by stopping funding and or mentoring of aspects if milestones were not validated as being met.
Since then, as briefed to the NATO Military Committee in Brussels on 25 April this year, 51 of the milestones had commenced and 67% of those were either completed or on track to complete on time; 29% were delayed or subject to challenges and 4% (i.e. 2 objectives) had been dismissed as no longer relevant.
I do not know if there have been any consequences for the ~33% failure rate.
This sounds like a big number, but when it comes to working with foreign armies you have to come to expect a lesser degree of morale, commitment, and loyalty. Afghanistan’s army is not the same as a first world country’s army, in which we would be appalled at such a high number.
Our team commenced and shepherded an 18-mo contract with Cure International for development of an Afghan Right, or what we called Tier One, hospital standards that was completed in the fall of 2011.
I am told by Brigadier Parker that these standards have gained some effectiveness as validation teams first deployed in 2012 to inspect but these inspection events remain quite intermittent and as the many attempts at no-notice inspections in 2010 and 2011 indicated, there is no lack of leaks in the inspection system timetables.
While unscheduled, surprise visits are the only real way to ensure compliance and ethicality, no one is going to let a global topic like this hospital and the Coalition presence in Afghanistan be blundered by a surprise visit.
Unfortunately, any nonstatistically selected audit unit finding cannot be generalized to the entire inventory. That is just a fact.
This is a fallacy that I noted even in the May DoDIG report of compliance on page 9. A new Surgeon General MG Musa Wardak has replaced MG TotaKhil who replaced MG Yaftali in Dec 2010.
As with the appointment of MG Totakhil, great expectations accompany this change but the last Surgeon, MG Totakhil, had been unable to muster the support from the Ministry of Defense to actually enforce the standards or to reassign personnel as the 1 February 2011 combined MOD and NTM-A IG inspection documented.
Geller is touching on a very relevant leadership problem in Afghanistan. Higher-ups generally do not back their subordinates in a way that we see in the American military. Where we might be used to a company commander standing behind the actions of one of his or her platoon sergeants, that same support would not be afforded (in most cases) were the leader and the soldier member’s of Afghanistan’s army.
Throughout 2011 senior Afghan MOD officials stated they were all powerless to get even 11 nurses who repeatedly did not report to work but were kept on the payroll (tashkiel) at the National Military Hospital preventing the hiring of competent nurses the US had trained.
They were “protected” while nursing staff was undermanned and unable to adequately care for the soldiers.
I personally took this to MG Totakhil, Chief of the General Staff GEN Karimi and First Deputy Minister Nasari without any effect long after MG Yaftali had been relieved.
Again, someone that high up in the food chain has no vested interest in his or her subordinates in Afghanistan, so whistleblowing efforts often go unsupported.
The Criminal Patronage Networks remained in place at the Daoud Khan Hospital.
I hope this change of leadership at the Surgeon General’s office has been accompanied by changes in MOD support but history provides little in support of that hope. And, of course, hope is not a plan.
Today, not just in 2010 or 2011, individuals wearing ANA uniforms, being paid salaries that US taxpayers support and who perpetrated or allowed to be perpetrated unspeakable abuses upon Afghan soldiers, civilians and family members walk the halls of the Daoud Khan Hospital unrepentant, unscathed, enriched and still unprosecuted.
I am informed that they are running very active private fee-for-service practices with our equipment, fuel, supplies and drugs in the National Military Hospital.
The Rule of Law despite years of efforts does not exist in Afghanistan and the lack of justice, the most essential of essential services that any legitimate government must provide to its people, is the ultimate anticounterinsurgency strategy that we must cease to support and fund.
None of this is the fault of the iterations of mentors that have faithfully answered the call to deploy in support of the Afghan Army health system; they all came to make a difference and I honor their service under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions, not always only from potential insurgent attacks, and receiving varying levels of leadership support under the rules of engagement that exist for medical mentoring.
However, they were and remain unprepared or equipped to deal with the impacts in their arena of the criminal patronage networks that continue to defeat the coalition.
The DoDIG recommended DoD program of instruction for medical mentors created, with input from those who had lived it in Afghanistan, for pre-deployment resiliency, ethics and medical stability operations training has languished due to the services not agreeing on a single curriculum, site or funding source while $B continue to flow into Afghanistan where there exists, as repeatedly documented by every accounting audit to date, a persistent lack of fiscal accountability of those funds.
I have attempted to provide some information to assist in the committee’s investigation into the corruption and mismanagement at the Sadar Mohammed Daoud Khan Hospital with this statement and in the documents submitted. I am at your disposal to answer any additional questions you might have.
Closing thoughts: If lawmakers weren’t so concerned with making the longest war in history look like it’s all good and problem-free I think this terrible scenario would have been curtailed. The fact of the matter is this: so much of our for-profit business in America has been bloated from this war that to stop it now would be like only serving one turkey at a Thanksgiving dinner for forty.
Something else that’s bothering me about this is the constant mention of “Dawood” Hospital, which is just a phonetic way of saying “Daud.” If you search for Daud Khan you’ll see all of last years reports about the hospital, and if you search for Dawood Hospital, you’ll only see this recent report. That’s funny, because they’re using the exact same images this time that they used last time.
It almost seems like those who broke the story are trying to not associate the 2011 reports about “Daud Khan” to be linked with the current reports about “Dawood,” even though they’re the same hospital. Perhaps someone is worried that people will start wondering why something wasn’t done when this all first hit the public eye.
As this story develops we’ll keep track of it on a future archives post. Stay tuned.