The Australian Greens have called for the Minister for Defence to inquire into why the Australian Defence Force has no information about 65% of the military aid projects it has funded in the Uruzgan province, why it does not evaluate them or know if they have been subject to attack ("Defence's build and forget line cops flak in Senate", SMH today http://tiny.cc/i08cuw).
These revelations emerged from a Senate inquiry into Australia's aid program in Afghanistan initiated by Greens overseas aid spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon.
"The Australian Defence Force has admitted that it has no information on 31, or 65 percent of its $34.1 million aid eligible projects in the Uruzgan province conducted since 2006," Senator Rhiannon said.
"These missing projects include, for example, three schools, four health centres, a women's training project and a health training facility. "The ADF, AusAID or DFAT do not independently evaluate the development impact of these projects nor do they know if 32 or 67 percent of its ODA eligible projects constructed using military aid have been attacked.
"There is no excuse for $17.1 million worth of aid project money being spent without monitoring or evaluating the outcome. "The ADF's fly by night approach to military aid projects in Afghanistan adds weight to evidence before the inquiry that they are designed to win the 'hearts and minds' of local people and not genuinely improve lives of Afghanis.
"Proper monitoring and evaluation of projects is the bedrock of good government policy but the ADF and AusAID appear to have thumbed their nose at this requirement.
"Monitoring and evaluating military aid projects in Uruzgan, built with millions of dollars of public money, should be a high priority of the Defence Force to ensure they are still operational, are secure from attack and to learn lessons for the future.
"Schools, health care centres, transport and community development initiatives are critical to the people of Afghanistan.
"The ADF has failed the Australian public by being unable to report on whether aid projects in Afghanistan that Defence has been involved with are operational and effective in supporting local women, men and children living there.
"The Defence Department appears to have a sloppy approach to military aid spending. It was only last year I uncovered that the ADF had wrongly categorised almost $190 million in military spending as foreign aid.
Vision of yesterday's inquiry hearings - ADF and Senator Rhiannon: