Afghanistan

Surging helicopter ride costs for U.S. officials show Afghanistan’s security decline

A report in Bloomberg, by Anthony Capaccio, suggests that the surging costs of helicopter rides by US personnel in Afghanistan are presenting a new challenge towards the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

The report notes that, “the State Department – which contracts with DynCorp International Inc. to provide flights from the embassy in Kabul for U.S. civilian aid workers and well as personnel from the Treasury Department, FBI and other agencies – is proposing to increase the cost of the trip to about $2,250 next year, up from $1,350 currently”.

This cost is more than what an Economy ticket costs for a round trip from Kabul to Washington, according to John Sopko, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). SIGAR’s spokesman says that the one-way rates are up from $300 in fiscal 2016.

The report also makes the following important points:

  • “As the country’s security situation continues to deteriorate, it’s too dangerous for Americans to drive to the airport, so helicopters are needed.
  •  Insurgent groups, primarily the Taliban or terrorists, controlled about 14.5 percent, the highest recorded since the U.S. invasion in 2001.
  • Sopko said he’s working with other U.S. officials, including Ambassador John Bass, to address the rising costs. The latest rate hike must still be approved by a State board.
  • Still, if the new rate takes effect “it will literally be cheaper to fly halfway round the world and return to Kabul than to travel three miles from Embassy Kabul to the Kabul airport,” Sopko said in a statement last week to a House panel.”

Original Source: Bloomberg

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