The DoD Bloggers’ Roundtable met again to discuss corruption in Afghanistan and to hear from U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Steven Andersen, Staff Judge Advocate, Anti-Corruption Office, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. Captain Andersen who has been in Afghanistan for 2 and a half months stated that he was there as a legal officer since Afghanistan does not have a coast or coast guard. We had a great discussion and the captain came filled with information for us and a great story of integrity which I will share at the end of the blog!
In a previous Roundtable blog we discussed the anti corruption measures and how using Electronic Transfer of Funds for payroll had prevented the skimming of payroll within Afghan security forces. The Afghan National Police are now at 80% for direct deposit. With their scattered offices throughout Afghanistan they face bigger challenges than the Army. He explained that the culture is changing for the police with a new Minister of the Interior. A positive leader with great leadership he has been doing unannounced visits to local police stations to encourage his officers. The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has an anti corruption plan with concrete, actionable items with whistle blower protection as well. A soon to be published Code of Conduct and with core values will provide further support to the anti corruption programs of MOI! These programs will not end police corruption over night nor completely erase it but they will make a difference. According to Captain Andersen a recent survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan said that Afghans tolerate corruption but do not accept it. They do not find a lie or stealing acceptable among government officials or in their culture.
I asked if the wikileaks release of classified information has had any impact on cooperation with Afghan officials and he said he had not observed any yet! Note that he said yet! He said the Afghans had some “very courageous, inspiring” folks serving their country.
To support the continued development of the anti corruption efforts in Afghanistan, NATO’s Building Integrity program which has been used worldwide including locations such as Kiev, Ukraine has visited Afghanistan 4 times in the last two years and will continue after 2011 when forces begin to drawdown as currently planned. General Petraeus is absolutely focused on anti corruption efforts and there are plenty of challenges but Captain Andersen ended with a great story of integrity.
An Afghan colonel who was a legal officer was approached by a two star Afghan General commander and told to get the dining hall food up to standard. The colonel told the general that he could not do that as the general was part of the problem. It seems that the general and staff and the vice commander were taking 50% of the dining hall meat for their own consumption and were not eating in the dining hall! The colonel challenged him and the general responded by stopping the practice of diverting the meat and he began eating in the dining hall with his folks! I can imagine that the dining hall food significantly improved.
If you would like to read more on Afghanistan please go to MilitaryAvenue’s Our Letters to You/Afghanistan. To read a transcript or listen to an audio of this continuing story please go to DoDLive. Thank you Captain Andersen and Lt Cragg (the moderator) for this exchange of information!
Photo Credits U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Steven J. Andersen, Staff Judge Advocate, Anti-Corruption Office, NTM-A/CSTC-A DoDLive