More than $200m was wasted on a programme to train Iraqi police that the government in Baghdad neither needed or wanted, US auditors have found.
The Police Development Programme, which was to be the single largest programme launched by the US State Department anywhere in the world, was envisioned to be a five-year, multi-billion dollar effort to train local security forces after the US military pulled out last December.
Iraqi political leaders, who were anxious to keep their distance from US initiatives, were also unenthusiastic about the programme, the audit showed.
A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, to be released on Monday, found that the US embassy in Baghdad never received a written commitment from Iraq to participate in the programme.
Now, facing what the report called Baghdad’s “disinterest” in the project, the embassy is massively cutting what was planned to be the centrepiece of ongoing US training projects in Iraq.
According to the report, the embassy now plans to turn the $108m Baghdad Police College Annex to Iraqis by the end of 2012, and will also stop training at a $98m site in the southern city of Basra.
The number of advisers, meanwhile, has been cut by nearly 90 per cent: from 350 to 36.