Despite a sordid and deadly reputation in Iraq, the mercenary army that began as Blackwater and is now known as Academi was a top recipient of Pentagon contracts for training Afghanistan’s security forces from 2002 to 2014, a government watchdog reported Tuesday.
The latest report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) also includes the surprising disclosure that IBM—a company not generally known as a defense contractor—was the largest beneficiary of a Pentagon program to stabilize Afghanistan by facilitating private investment in its vast mineral wealth.
Both findings were included in a SIGAR report that attempts to account for $66 billion appropriated by Congress to the Department of Defense for Afghanistan reconstruction. Altogether, the government spent $104 billion between 2002 and 2014 for the program. The Pentagon issued the bulk of the contracts, and the rest came from the Department of State and the US Agency for International Development.
Of the $66 billion spent by the Pentagon, however, SIGAR said DoD could only report on $21 billion, or less than one-third of its total. It accounted for the huge “discrepancy” to differences in executing contracts between “DoD and Federal accounting systems.” The Pentagon was also “unable to provide” contract data from the pre-2010 time, SIGAR said.
In 12 years of war, the report says, Academi Training Center Inc. received $569 million in contracts, or 31.9 percent of the total, of the Pentagon’s $1.8 billion Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities Fund for Afghanistan. The program, known as “DOD CN,” was designed to stabilize Afghanistan by training the country’s security forces to support military operations against drug traffickers and other armed groups.
The total puts Academi, which acquired Blackwater in 2011, far ahead of the Pentagon’s top contractors, including Northrop Grumman, CACI, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, all of which obtained multi-million dollar contracts under DOD CN.
Through two subsidiaries, Northrop Grumman received $363 million, which included “support to Afghan air capability,” SIGAR said.
(Correction: SIGAR contacted reporters after posting its report to say that it had miscalculated its contract totals and concluded that Blackwater/Academi was actually the second-largest Pentagon contractor for its Afghanistan training program. Northrop Grumman was the largest—see the update below.)