The US military may have violated several federal laws and put Americans at risk while building an airbase in Niger, according to an investigation.
The construction of the airfield was plagued with safety violations and mismanagement, ranging from issues with the fire-rescue station to defenses.
“A few procedural missteps occurred in an effort to build a functional air base in a very remote area under very austere conditions,” said US Africa Command spokesman Air Force Col. Chris Karns said. “The construction of Nigerien Air Base 201 provides a valued capability to address and monitor the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel.”
The subsequent IG report revealed that many of the construction items -costing around $3.7 million- were purchased with fund from the wrong budget, effectively violating the Antideficiency Act.
In a hurry to get things done, the USAF also bypassed Congress when it split operations and maintenance requirements up, claiming it was all a matter of getting things done on schedule.
“However, all of the projects were known and each project on its own would not result in a ‘complete and useable facility,’ which means the projects should have been combined and reported to Congress,” the DoD IG wrote.
According to the Air Force Times, Karns admitted that “mistakes were made,” but that they were remedied.
The base, known as Air Base 201, also had a perimeter that did not meet standards, endangering troops in a region known for terrorism.
US AFRICOM and the Air Force were unhappy with the report, claiming building in the Sahara Desert has its own challenges.
For the IG office of the DoD, however, the excuses didn’t hold water.
“We acknowledge the immense work and efforts put forth by AFRICOM and the Air Force,” DoD IG officials wrote in the report. “However, the circumstances did not negate the Air Force’s responsibility to ensure that construction projects were programmed in accordance with appropriation laws and regulations; construction, operations, and security standards were adhered to; and the appropriate waivers were coordinated and approved.”
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