Here are summaries of the findings as written in the report. Each one has dozens of pages of supporting interview and documentation following the summary.
1. Security for the U.S. Supply Chain Is Principally Provided by Warlords
Finding: The principal private security subcontractors on the HNT contract are warlords, strongmen, commanders, and militia leaders who compete with the Afghan central government for power and authority. Providing “protection” services for the U.S. supply chain empowers these warlords with money, legitimacy, and a raison d’etre for their private armies. Although many of these warlords nominally operate under private security companies licensed by the Afghan Ministry of Interior, the warlords thrive in a vacuum of government authority and their interests are in fundamental conflict with U.S. aims to build a strong Afghan government.
2. The Highway Warlords Run a Protection Racket
Finding: The HNT contractors and their trucking subcontractors pay tens of millions of dollars annually to local warlords across Afghanistan in exchange for “protection” for HNT supply convoys to support U.S. troops. Although the warlords do provide guards and coordinate security, the contractors have little choice but to use them in what amounts to a vast protection racket. The consequences are clear: trucking companies that pay the highway warlords for security are provided protection; trucking companies that do not pay believe they are more likely to find themselves under attack. As a result, almost everyone pays. In interviews and documents, the HNT contractors frequently referred to such payments as “extortion,” “bribes,” “special security,” and/or “protection payments.”
3. Protection Payments for Safe Passage Are a Significant Potential Source of Funding for the Taliban
Finding: Within the HNT contractor community, many believe that the highway warlords who nominally guard the trucks in turn make protection payments to insurgents to coordinate safe passage. This belief is evidenced in numerous documents, incident reports, and e-mails that refer to attempts at Taliban extortion along the road. The Subcommittee has not uncovered any direct evidence of such payments and Commander Ruhullah, the Popal brothers, and Ahmed Wali Karzai all adamantly deny that any convoy security commanders pay insurgents. According to experts and public reporting, however, the Taliban regularly extort rents from a variety of licit and illicit industries, and it is plausible that the Taliban would try to extort protection payments from the coalition supply chain that runs through territory in which they freely operate.
4. Unaccountable Supply Chain Security Contractors Fuel Corruption
Finding: HNT contractors and their private security providers report widespread corruption by Afghan officials and frequent government extortion along the road. The largest private security provider for HNT trucks complained that it had to pay $1,000 to $10,000 in monthly bribes to nearly every Afghan governor, police chief, and local military unit whose territory the company passed. HNT contractors themselves reported similar corruption at a smaller scale, including significant numbers of ANP checkpoints. Military officials confirmed that they were aware of these problems.
5. Unaccountable Supply Chain Security Contractors Undermine U.S. Counterinsurgency Strategy
Finding: While outsourcing principal responsibility for the supply chain in Afghanistan to local truckers and unknown security commanders has allowed the Department of Defense to devote a greater percentage of its force structure to priority operations, these logistics arrangements have significant unintended consequences for the overall counterinsurgency strategy. By fueling unaccountable warlords and funding parallel power structures, the United States undercuts efforts to establish popular confidence in a credible and sustainable Afghan government.
6. The Department of Defense Lacks Effective Oversight of Its Supply Chain and Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan
Finding: The Department of Defense has little to no visibility into what happens to the trucks carrying U.S. supplies between the time the trucks leave the gate to the time they arrive at their destination. Despite serious concerns regarding operations, no military managers have ever observed truck operations on the road or met with key security providers. The Department of Defense’s regulations, promulgated in response to direction by Congress, require oversight of all private security companies working as contractors or subcontractors for the U.S government. These requirements include ensuring that all private security company personnel comply with U.S. government and local country firearm laws, that all private security company equipment be tracked, and that all incidents of death, injury, or property damage be fully investigated. The Department of Defense is grossly out of compliance with applicable regulations and has no visibility into the operations of the private security companies that are subcontractors on the HNT contract.
7. HNT Contractors Warned the Department of Defense About Protection Payments for Safe Passage to No Avail
Finding: In meetings, interviews, e-mails, white papers, and PowerPoint presentations, many HNT prime contractors self-reported to military officials and criminal investigators that they were being forced to make “protection payments” for “safe passage” on the road. While military officials acknowledged receiving the warnings, these concerns were never appropriately addressed.