Local National Guard Soldier Helps Uncover Corruption In Afghanistan
Oskaloosa, Iowa – Mayor George Toubekis has been continuing his duties to his hometown and also to the US Army since his deployment in August of 2012.
On the day of his departure, tears filled the eyes of his family and friends as the sergeant boarded a bus for some training stateside before being deployed to Afghanistan with the Iowa National Guard. He is approximately half way through his current deployment.
Toubekis was aware ahead of time of what his mission would be. The training and personal experiences he has acquired played a role in his mission, and the story of uncovering corruption, which is just now starting to unravel – especially when he contacted SIGAR about problems at his new post.
According to SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction), the United States has provided over 89.5 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan.
Congress created the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to provide independent and objective oversight of Afghanistan reconstruction projects and activities. Under the authority of Section 1229 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (P.L. 110-181), SIGAR conducts audits and investigations to: 1) promote efficiency and effectiveness of reconstruction programs and 2) detect and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
John F. Sopko was sworn in as Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction on July 2, 2012. SIGAR is headquartered in Arlington, VA; has an office in Kabul, Afghanistan; and has a field presence in multiple locations throughout Afghanistan.
As the story is just starting to come to light, Special Inspector General Sopko was recently on C-SPAN when they took a question from a caller over spending issues, at which time Sopko took the opportunity to highlight an issue that is currently unraveling in Afghanistan.
In the interview, Sopko talks about Sergeant First Class Toubekis and his role in uncovering corruption that was taking place in Afghanistan. The following is a transcript of that portion of audio from John Sopko:
“When I was in Afghanistan last time, I ran into two soldiers from the Iowa National Guard. Sgt. George Toubekis and Lt. Col. Wesley Golden. And, I want to tell a little story for a second if I can. I think it goes right back to what the caller was talking about.”
“These guys came in. Their job was to manage the fuel depot up and near Mazar-I-Sharif, at one of our bases. And, It makes me so proud. The sergeant looked at the fuel base. It was handed over to him by some other military officer or enlisted man and he says ‘there’s something wrong here. This doesn’t make sense. I know something about fuel’. Now ironically he’s a mayor from a small town in Iowa. He’s your typical National Guard. The citizen soldier comes in to do his job. He says there’s something wrong here, and he tells his boss, the Lt. Colonel, ‘They’re handing over fuel and we don’t have it’.”
“So he started asking questions. He started looking at the records. He started pulling that string. He could only go so far, but he recognized there was a problem.”
“Now fortunately, I have people all over Afghanistan and he remembered running into one of our agents; picked up the phone or emailed. My guy helicopter’d in and they started looking. It lead to indictments and convictions. It lead to a senior Afghan official getting convicted and getting jail time. But it lead to the savings of about 19 or 20 million dollars worth of fuel. And that was just a sergeant and his boss, the Lt. Colonel. And if that can be multiplied, through bases throughout the United States, then we won’t be double billed and we won’t be overcharged.”
I asked SFC Toubekis about the incident. He said he is unable to comment about the situation at this time.