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U.S. Army to examine US$3 billion in Iraq contracts

U.S. Army to examine US$3 billion in Iraq contracts

The Army will examine as many as 18,000 contracts awarded over the past four years to support U.S. forces in Iraq to determine how many are tainted by waste, fraud and abuse, service officials said.
Overall, the contracts are worth close to US$3 billion and represent every transaction made between 2003 and 2007 by a contracting office in Kuwait, which the Army has identified as a significant trouble spot.
Among the contracts to be reviewed by the Army are awards to former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, which has received billions of dollars since 2001 to be a major provider of food and shelter services to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Democrats in Congress have claimed that KBR, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown and Root, benefited from ties to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who once led Halliburton Co., the Houston-based oil services conglomerate, and congressional Republicans.
The announcement, made by Army Secretary Pete Geren, comes as the number of criminal cases related to the acquisition of weapons and other supplies for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has grown to 76. So far, 20 military and civilian Army employees have been indicted on charges of contract fraud.
Geren said the Army has been auditing the contracting operation in Kuwait for more than a year. He acknowledged the expanding list of criminal investigations was a factor in appointing a special task force headed by a three-star Army general.
Lieutenant General N. Ross Thompson has been empowered to take whatever corrective actions he determines are necessary "to prevent any further abuse, fraud or waste," Geren said.
By September 30, Thompson plans to boost the number of personnel in the Kuwait office by 35, giving it a staff of 90.
"We already know from our internal looks over the last few months in Kuwait that the experience level of some of the people wasn't up to the complexity of the contracts," Thompson said.
By January 1, contracts worth more than US$1 million will be handled by the Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, which has staff able to deal with more complex contracts, Thompson said.


Updated : 2021-02-28 14:23 GMT+08:00