The Pentagon agency responsible for getting supplies to US troops in Afghanistan has been quick to touch base with newly appointed ambassadors in Central Asia. Two recent meetings play into the theory that Washington lets the decade-old war dictate the shape and scope of its diplomatic activity in the former Soviet republics near Afghanistan. Perhaps, though, new rules for transparency in government tenders will do some good in one of the world’s most corrupt regions.
Krol reportedly said, “It’s important for USCENTCOM, US Transportation Command, DLA and any other entity that has an interest in the Northern Distribution Network [NDN] to coordinate their operations.”
Likewise, before Pamela Spratlen, the new US ambassador in Bishkek, even landed in Kyrgyzstan she had an April 20 meeting with Thompson to be reminded just how critical “embassy support” is because DLA does “business in Kyrgyzstan in support of military operations in Afghanistan.”
While DLA oversees the running of the NDN through some of the most corrupt countries imaginable, it’s the Department of State that usually finds itself on the receiving end when things go wrong.
But the latest tender for fuel at the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan, DLA’s big-ticket offering in Central Asia, contains new demands for contractor transparency. Potential providers are asked to reveal their beneficial owners and in turn the identities of their subcontractors’ owners. DLA wants names, addresses and phone numbers.
Although standard on Afghan contracts, such information, or the lack of it, on the Manas fuel contract previously proved embarrassing for DLA. Perhaps DLA is on a similar learning curve as the newly inaugurated ambassadors: In Central Asia listening is good but you can never ask too many questions either.