WASHINGTON Cash from part of a $2.16 billion U.S. transportation contract in Afghanistan has ended up in the hands of Taliban insurgents, the Pentagon said on Monday.
The disclosure is another example of the persistent difficulty the U.S. military has in keeping its massive war funding from reaching the insurgents it is fighting in the unpopular, decade-old Afghan war.
The United States is spending more than $6 billion a month in the conflict.
Pentagon officials have repeatedly warned of the need to tighten controls on U.S. contracts and last year announced the creation of a task force to crack down on misuse of funds by contractors, some of whom pay Taliban protection money.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the discovery of the siphoning of funds from the trucking contract was part of that previously announced effort. He said the U.S. military's Central Command, which oversees the Afghan war, aimed to sign a new trucking contract in September.
"Central Command's contracting command is working on a new Afghan trucking contract to ensure greater transparency into subcontractors," Lapan told reporters.
The details from the internal study by NATO forces in Afghanistan were first reported by the Washington Post.
The news came just days after Reuters reported on a study being completed by a congressional commission showing that some $34 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars have been wasted on contracts with the private sector in the wars in Afghanistan in Iraq.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Christopher Wilson)