Small Wars Journal

SIGAR Review of Afghan Ring Road Construction

SIGAR Review of Afghan Ring Road Construction

Today, SIGAR released a review of the construction of a 233-kilometer segment of Afghanistan's Ring Road between Qeysar and Laman. Since 2006, the project has been funded by five separate grants from the Asian Development Bank totaling $721 million.

The review found:

-- As of September 2017, the Afghan Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) had disbursed $249 million of the ADF grant funds to build this 233-kilometer section of road, but contractors had only achieved 15 percent construction progress.

-- From March 2014 through September 2017, no physical progress was made on the Qeysar and Laman route. This delay almost certainly eroded much of the limited work that had been completed prior to that period.

-- The project was plagued by security challenges, poor contractor performance, and a lack of capacity within the MoPW to manage large construction contracts. These issues led to repeated failed efforts and the termination of two contracts for the construction of the road.

-- In November 2008, three local staff of an engineering consulting firm were abducted, and one was killed. In February 2009, work was suspended at the site due to security concerns, and 16 subcontractor employees were abducted just a little over a month later.

-- Another contract was terminated after no paved roads were constructed and design work was incomplete after nearly three years. Despite receiving approximately 46% of the contract's value, only 15% of the work was completed. The joint venture also failed to pay subcontractors an estimated $25.5 million.

-- Contemporaneous project reports stated that security problems throughout the proposed project area contributed to unsuccessful attempts to solicit qualified bidders for construction contracts.

-- We remain unconvinced that the security situation, even with a change in contractor's security posture, is somehow now more manageable, given that the percentage of districts under insurgent control or influence has doubled since 2015.

-- While we hope for success, we are left without any indication that the circumstances have improved sufficiently to warrant a high degree of confidence that the project will be completed, that more money will not be wasted, or that more security incidents will not occur.

Full Report:


SWJED Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:33am
Let’s Call it “Starfleet Command”!

Let’s Call it “Starfleet Command”!


Morgan Smiley


The recent announcement by President Trump to establish a separate Space Force may, for some, conjure up visions of laser-armed astro-troops launching themselves out of a space shuttle blasting away at evil-doers orbiting high above our skies (ok….I admit it…I liked “Moonraker”).  Others might envision a near-future scenario where a “space trooper” arrives at the gates of Fort Death Star, just outside Roswell, New Mexico, home of the Headquarters, United States Space Force, whose gates are protected by armed robots built by Boston Dynamics and nick-named “cylons”.  But most are probably thinking, “What the frak sort of decision is this?”.


This idea was briefly raised at Small Wars Journal several years ago:

- United States Space Force ……we may want to consider doing away with the Air Force as it is currently configured and reorganize it into a service that maintains dominance from space.

Give to the Army the A-10s, F-15s, & F-16s and let them handle air dominance over their areas of operation (along with the Navy and Marines).  The new Space Force can enhance all of that using their space-based platforms as well as maintain complete, horizon-to-horizon situational awareness of enemy air and space assets, potentially dealing with them before they threaten US & allied interests.  Strategic air capabilities, like bombers, (intercontinental) ballistic missiles, and cargo transports will be retained by the new service since its global perspective is, by definition, strategic.

The Space Force may also be the service of choice to lead cyberspace operations as it will be positioned, literally, to observe all areas of the globe in real-time.  Using the latest in computer and communications technology we can reduce reaction time to any threats potentially by using cyber-capabilities to attack and disarm threat network systems and/ or navigational guidance systems of threat weapons, missiles, etc. that are targeting our assets (like bombers or cargo aircraft).

Given the apparent emphasis our near-peer competitors have placed on the militarization of space and cyberspace (Chinese anti-U.S. space efforts, Russian cyber efforts in Estonia & Ukraine), it makes sense for the U.S. to move in that direction as well.  For years each of our services has developed a growing interest in space and its impact on service-specific domains.  The Navy has Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or SPAWAR; the Army has Space and Missile Defense Command with its 1st Space Brigade; the Air Force has Space Command.  While each element has a service-specific focus for their space elements and share a strategic outlook, including a heavy involvement in cyberspace operations, they’re consigned to “second-tier” status in favor of more parochial efforts.  The Space Force can be the one service that has space and cyberspace as its primary focus, allowing the other services to concentrate on their areas of expertise.


Our Air Force allowed us to go from air superiority to air dominance.  In order to maintain it, we need to go higher.  From that higher level, we can protect the vital assets that allow our modern high-tech society to function.  The Space Force can ensure: air/ missile threats are quickly dealt with through its horizon-to-horizon perspective; space-based platforms, particularly navigation and communications satellites, are protected; and using the latest technology, effective functionality in cyberspace to protect us within “inner space”.


SWJED Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:17am
What Awaits Yemen After Hodeida? SWJED Wed, 06/20/2018 - 9:59am