Watchdog alerts troops in Afghanistan to new IED dangers

Marines carry a colleague wounded by an IED in Afghanistan in 2011. Marines carry a colleague wounded by an IED in Afghanistan in 2011. Kevin Frayer/AP file photo

A watchdog has warned U.S. troops and commanders in Afghanistan of a heightened threat of attacks using improvised explosive devices as a result of inaccurate inspection reports by Afghan contractors.

In an Oct. 10 safety alert sent to top Marine generals James Mattis and John Allen, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko warned of a threat to U.S. forces from the lack of culvert denial systems on a major highway in Afghanistan. The systems, designed to prevent access to roadways by insurgents seeking to plant IEDs, are being installed and inspected by local contractors.

But after finding “potentially significant contract fraud” during an investigation, SIGAR estimated that “a large number of culvert denial systems might have been falsely reported as complete by Afghan contractors when, in fact, the denial systems were not installed or were installed improperly, rendering them ineffective and susceptible to compromise by insurgents seeking to emplace IEDs.”

The findings on one major highway could mean similar threats on roads around the country, Sopko wrote. SIGAR employees have briefed U.S. commanders in the capital city of Kabul and requested widespread dissemination of the alert.

“The case is an outstanding example of the benefits of cooperation between the military and SIGAR and may result in the saving of lives,” Sopko wrote.

Asked whether specific U.S. contractors may be involved in supervising the Afghans, Philip LaVelle, SIGAR’s director of public affairs, declined comment, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.