Lessons Learned from Oversight of War and Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan

In the past year, Congress has disbursed roughly $100 billion in total aid in support of Ukraine’s efforts to beat back Russia’s brutal invasion. This aid has enabled Ukraine to halt Russia’s advance, but the very large volume and speed of its dispersal raises questions about accountability. John Sopko, who has served as Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction since 2012, has advocated for the creation of a special inspector general for Ukraine aid, but the White House and many in Congress oppose this.   What lessons can we learn from the U.S. government’s experience dispersing military and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan? Why is it important to follow a whole of government approach to oversight, rather than relying on individual inspectors at agencies like the Department of Defense and State? What advantage is to be gained by setting up comprehensive oversight now, rather than later? To tackle these questions and more, the Quincy Institute hosted a panel featuring John Sopko, Andrew Bacevich, co-founder and board chair of the Quincy Institute, and Danielle Brian, president of the Project on Government Oversight. 

                                                                             A transcript of the webinar can be downloaded here.



John Sopko

John F. Sopko was sworn in as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction on July 2, 2012. SIGAR is the U.S. government’s leading agency on Afghanistan reconstruction. SIGAR staff are committed to uncovering fraud, waste and abuse – and to providing policymakers with the independent analysis they need to make informed decisions on one of the complex foreign policy issues facing the United States.

Danielle Brian

Danielle Brian is the executive director and president of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). Under her leadership, the organization has grown from two employees and a budget in the thousands of dollars in 1993 to an organization with a staff of fifty and a budget of eight million. POGO’s work in the past has resulted in the passage of major reforms, exposing and resolving conflicts of interest between various government entities, saving the office of congressional ethics and congressional budget office, and eliminating the overseas contingency operations as well as other victories.

Andrew Bacevich

Andrew Bacevich co-founded the Quincy Institute in 2019 and is the Chairman of the institution’s board of directors. He is Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University. A graduate of West Point and Princeton, he served in the army before becoming an academic. He is the author of several bestselling books including most recently, On Shedding an Obsolete Past: Bidding Farewell to the American Century (2022).

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos (Moderator)

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a senior advisor at the Quincy Institute and editorial director of its online magazine, Responsible Statecraft. Previously she served as executive editor managing editor, and longtime foreign policy/national security writer at the American Conservative magazine. She also spent 15 years as an online political reporter for Fox News.