The Army Times is reporting that for the first time a non-American military officer will be commanding US forces in Europe.

German Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal

Announced yesterday, German Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal has been appointed chief of staff of U. S. Army Europe. USAREUR commands 37,000 US soldiers, over 90% of which are stationed in Germany according to German news agency Focus. Laubenthal  is the former commander of Germany’s 12th Panzer Brigade in Amberg. Most recently Laubenthal was chief of staff of Regional Command North, International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan. Regional Command North (RCN) consists of ten NATO member states, including the US and Germany, in addition to non-NATO members Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mongolia, Montenegro and Sweden. Under Herr Laubenthal, the Pentagon’s maligned misadventure in Southwest Asia has seen “…billions of dollars wasted in Afghanistan, including donation of planes the local government doesn’t need or can’t use, weapons that disappear as soon as they’re handed over and and construction of brand new buildings that are basically firetraps.”  according to US Special Inspector General John Sopko.   Officially, Regional Command North (RCN) describes it’s mission as “…support coordination and collaboration activities to train and advise elements of the Afghan National Security Forces in the region, with the goal to promote a prosperous economy, social and cultural development in key terrain districts, neutralize the insurgency through a increasingly capabilities ANSF.” <sic> Evidently, American tax dollars have also been wasted by employing the person tasked with proofreading the RCN website.

To date, the failed reconstruction of Afghanistan has cost more than rebuilding all of Europe after World War II. 

Last week John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR),  presented a report to the US Congress that details the waste and corruption that define the abysmal reconstruction phase of this thirteen year war. In addition to the $500 billion spent on the military operation in Afghanistan, reconstruction has cost the US taxpayers an additional $104 Billion, not accounting for inflation. If the math were done using today’s gasping dollar those totals would be significantly higher. Author’s Note: The US watchdog group Costs of War provides a wealth of information regarding the socio-economic costs of the post 9/11 wars.  Their one-page breakdown of non-classified US government spending including $471 Billion that has gone to the Department of Homeland Security for ‘war related’ expenditures can viewed here Sopko is a nearly mythical figure in this era, seemingly tireless in his efforts to root out the ways that government wastes the taxpayer’s money and prompt in chastising them for it. In his first year as SIGAR, he inspected $10.6 billion, and found that almost $7 billion of this was wasted or unable to be accounted for. Some of the many faults that the SIGAR report highlights are laughable from an abstract perspective, while others are genuinely sobering. For instance, thousands of the weapons that the US has provided to Afghan security forces are missing. As far as the military-industrial establishment is concerned this is good news because now more weapons must be supplied. Sopko described the situation to Fox News saying: “This audit reveals a stunning lack of accountability over combat weapons provided to Afghan security forces,… It also reveals that the Pentagon continues to send weapons — even though the Afghans have 100,000 more than they need.  Infamously, another direct result of the RCN “reconstruction” effort has been the meteoric rise of opium production in Afghanistan. Prior to the military invasion, all poppy farms in the country had been supplanted by alternative crops. During reconstruction, Afghan poppy fields have produced no less than 80% of the world’s opium supply.  Earlier this year Yuri Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan had reached a record 200,000 hectares. Under the command of Herr Laubenthal, the Pentagon publicly acknowledged that the US Marine Corps was providing security for these illicit dope farms, even allowing one Marine to do a Fox News interview about the situation while standing in a field of poppies. Even if this particular news clip is new for the reader, it should certainly not be surprising… Part 1 of 2