The Pentagon is spending tens of millions of dollars on one of the strongest defenses to protect U.S. troops from improvised explosive devises in Afghanistan. But some of them might not actually be in use.
To protect U.S. troops from IEDs, the Pentagon awards contracts for the installation of grates to prevent militants from putting road-side bombs in drain pipes. The problem is that it is unclear whether these so-called culvert-denial systems (pictured below) are functioning or even installed, according to a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which shows several disturbing trends of fraud by Afghan contractors.
Although fatalities are down among American and NATO troops — as Afghan forces take a more active role in combat missions — IEDs are the leading cause of death in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, three NATO servicemembers were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. This brings the total number this month to seven, and a total of 98 this year.
As of late 2012, 60 percent of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan that year came from 17,000 IED attacks. Most of these bombs are made from ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Because of the simplicity of the bomb, it became a widespread tool for militants fighting NATO soldiers. From 2009 to 2011, attacks rose by 42 percent.