Why are we buying Afghan drug smugglers helos from Russian peddlers of WMD?

Why are we buying Afghan drug smugglers helos from Russian peddlers of WMD?

Posted on May 9th, 2012 in Blog, Top Picks

The U.S. Army would like to move forward in their effort to supply the Afghan military with 21 Russian-manufactured MI-17 helicopters for $375 million which are to be purchased from Russia’s main weapons exporter, Rosoboronexport.  It should be noted, though, that the Afghan military has been using their US taxpayer-funded helicopters to transport illegal drugs throughout the country.  Heroin production remains a major source of instability in Afghanistan by fostering corruption and providing a source of revenue for insurgents.

Furthermore, Rosoboronexport, has been violated efforts to curb proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) with sales to Syria and Iran, and was blacklisted by the U.S. government from 2006-2010.  It 2011 Rosoboronexport sold over $1 billion worth of equipment to Syria, which included sniper rifles, high explosive mortars, and combat jets.  Unfortunately, there are only a limited number of Russian Helicopter suppliers, so an apparent exception has been made to bolster the Afghan Air Force.

To summarize, the Pentagon appears to be engaging in counter-productive activities:

Supplying helicopters to a drug-running Afghan Air Force that facilitates the highly-destabilizing illegal narcotics industry while boosting the revenue of the Russian arms exporter who facilitates the al-Assad regime’s atrocities in Syria and is involved with WMD proliferation.

Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than any fiction any of us would believe. 

In MBA schools it has been said a good businessperson identifies market opportunities and supplies a good or service for a profit but a REALLY GOOD one is able to increase both supply and demand and get rewarded for both efforts.  This may sound a little like the (in)famous chef Paula Deen having advocated for high fat, sugar, and salt recipes while being a paid spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company that sells a diabetes drug.  If only all Pentagon business deals were so cleverly concocted maybe we’d have saved some of the cash from the new highly-over-budget aircraft we taxpayers bought for OUR military that we could afford to buy THEIR military whatever helos they want… but we digress.

Fortunately, and though anathema to most of the military community, in this case it is the human rights community that is riding to the rescue, since the planned purchase has garnered the attention of Human Rights activists, a fact that now provides the Pentagon with an easy win: saving money with a public relations victory by finding an alternative, less expensive, non-black listed helicopter supplier for the Afghan Air Force once it has ridden itself of drug-smuggling entities.  Say, aren’t there some U.S. and European firms that make helicopters?  Maybe one of them could meet the needs of the Afghans… or even, just possibly, a fleet of used helos, given that after a week of flying there even shiny new helos look like war-tested veterans…