What Happened To The Brakes?

Left side is new brake rotor and pads. Right side is what was on ANA HMMVW.

After our morning meeting I went to see my ANA PBO.  I am starting to think he is purposely avoiding me.  So I used this opportunity to visit the vehicle maintenance compound.  Some of our US soldiers are conducting additional mechanics courses and for good reason.  First, I am not a trained mechanic, but I am able to discern when something looks broken or worn out.  Look at the first picture with the brake rotors and pads.  Notice how scarred the rotor drum (pictured on the right) is.  The brake pads are missing too.  These items allegedly came off of an ANA HMMVW that killed 3 innocent pedestrians because the driver had no brakes.  Not only did he have no brakes, there was no brake fluid in the reservoir.  The Afghan government will probably make a condolence payment of $2,000 or $3,000 dollars to the deceased family members for the accident.  The driver of the vehicle abandoned it and hasn’t been seen since.  But the real tragedy is the ANA mechanics frequently inspect and repair these vehicles.  How could they not seen how worn out these brakes were, the brake pads are completely gone?  Now here is the real shocker, our soldiers caught the mechanics reinstalling the same rotor and what is left of the pad back on the vehicle!  Although they acknowledged the rotors should be replaced or ground down and new pads installed, they claimed they couldn’t get the parts.

Notice how tire is helping to support weight of up-armored HMMVW.

We pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for spare vehicle parts and the ANA is still unable to get them through the supply system or the parts are allegedly being stolen and resold in the bazaar.  But there is more to this tragedy.  We pay even more money to a US contractor who trains these mechanics so the ANA will have the organic capability to repair their own vehicles.  If you have been a regular reader, recall my observations of engine oil being placed in the power steering reservoir or substituted for hydraulic fluid.  Now here is the real kick in the teeth.  The contractor is also responsible for training these mechanics so eventually the contractor’s services won’t be required anymore. In the military, we call this “train the trainer”.  The new person being trained will train others and as a result the contractor is no longer needed.  Admittedly, this is good in theory.  Coincidentally, after an ANA soldier completes the year long class, they are hired by this same contractor who doubles or triples their current salary and pays approximately $700 a month.  Or the trained mechanic will leave the ANA and work for a

ANA mechanics receiving mentoring and training.

local garage for the same amount of money.  I don’t even want to guess how much they are charging the US taxpayer.  Because of this “coincidence”, the ANA has few qualified mechanics.  As a result, the contractor gets a lot of the repair jobs too and orders supplies through their logistic system, which I am sure costs US taxpayers another pretty penny.  Oh, I might also point out this contractor really didn’t work itself out of a job, because the ANA still has a shortage of trained mechanics and their contract was extended for a nice tidy sum.  I suppose from a business perspective in maximizing profits, this is a great business model.  I must have slept through or not attended these college sessions when they taught business courses on ripping off the taxpayers, because surely I would remember this.  Yet I have seen so much of it here, it’s no longer shocking.  Maybe I am completely wrong and it’s all coincidental or isolated.  Take a look at the half shaft that was recently removed from a vehicle.  Yup, coincidence!

Left side is good half shaft and right side is bad one.

The next part of my day was spent with the Religious Officer Assistant (ROA) and the ANA Mullah was present too.  We always have lively discussions or should I say interesting discussions.  I was purposely going to refrain from asking any intimidating questions, so not to scare him off.  The Mullah looked a bit dejected today.  He wants to have a second wife, but he doesn’t have the finances to afford her.  According to him, Muslims are permitted to have 4 wives.  He was quick to point out that he is a devout Muslim and hasn’t siphoned off so much as 5 gallons of diesel fuel to resale in the bazaar, nor has he or the RAO stolen anything from the ANA.  Because of their integrity, they both remain poor and struggle to support their families…Inshallah..(God Willing).  After my observation at the garage, I wasn’t in a mood to discuss corruption.  But something the RAO said caught my attention.  He referred to the 32 provinces of Afghanistan, even though I know there are 34.  But in the ANA and I have seen it published in the local newspapers as 32 provinces.  I haven’t had a chance to research the validity of this, but by their explanation, these other provinces were created out of established provinces.  One of the newest ones is Nurestan, which was derived from Badakhshan and has something to do with President Karzai.  The other province is Daykundi which originated from the Bamyan province.  I was also surprised to learn before the Taliban era, there were even fewer provinces.  They joked if they were a warlord, they would also create their own province, similar to the way infamous warlord Massoud created the Panjshir province which was carved from the Parwan province.

We sipped our tea and discussed a bit more about polygamy in the US along with some other topics. They informed me about 2 ANA officers who served as Mujahedeen under the warlord Massoud.  I am hoping to get an interview with both of them as I continue my historical studies of the Soviet-Taliban era.  I was also invited back to the ANA literacy class for the graduation ceremony.  Perhaps they will give me an opportunity to speak and motivate the ANA troops again.

Note:  The schools in Afghanistan have reopened their doors for business.  Before long, I hope to put some smiles on children faces when they receive some new school supplies that were generously donated by US donors.


2 Responses

  1. You know Rex, I bounce around the net and see stories about this all the time. And some Afghans put the blame on ISAF-NATO. Yet some won’t look at themselves “Oh I don’t steal from my people” A fat chicken does not lay eggs. Yeah right, stay safe

  2. […] receive some new school supplies that were generously donated by US donors. … Read more: What Happened To The Brakes? « Afghanistan My Last Tour Share and […]

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